Population: 15.7 Million
Language: Spanish Currency: US dollar (Since 2000)
National Music: Pasillo
More than 70% of people living in rural Ecuador use a piped water source, which qualifies as an “improved” drinking water source. However, these improved drinking water sources are not necessarily safe to drink. This was the situation facing the Guizhaguiña community in the El Oro province of Ecuador. Families had water piped into their homes, but this water was unsafe. It came from an unprotected reservoir in the hills above the town; a series of pipes, some of which were leaky and thus open to contamination, connected the water source to people’s homes.
In June of 2014, OHorizons traveled to the beautiful city of Zaruma, Ecuador, to run a 4-day training session with Agua Limpia Ecuador (Clean Water Ecuador), a coalition that comprised local community leaders and members of the Rotary Club of Zaruma. The goal of the trip was to train five community members on the construction and use of the OHorizons Wood Mold. This training would provide participants with knowledge of how to construct the Wood Mold as well as how to cast concrete BioSand Filters using the mold.
In late 2011, Gary Sobotta, the Project Leader of the Novi Rotary Club, along with others, secured a grant from the Rotary Foundation to run workshops on Project Implementation of BioSand Water Filters and Community Health Promotion in Cuenca, Ecuador. These workshops were attended by engineers and community health workers from local Rotary clubs in Ecuador. By 2014, Gary had heard about OHorizons and shared with the coalition that had formed, Agua Limpia Ecuador, that our Wood Molds could be a great fit for their project.
In addition to the Wood Mold’s lower startup cost, Agua Limpia Ecuador was excited that our Molds were lighter for transportation and easier to create on site. These factors would be critical to the ease of operations in the difficult to travel Andean Highlands. Our organizations went to work discussing the outline of a pilot project that would include OHorizons traveling to Zaruma to do a training.
Two of our staff members travelled to Ecuador to conduct the Wood Mold training. This was to be the third field-based project OHorizons had conducted. The Zaruma Rotary members graciously invited us into their homes and hosted us for the duration of our time in Zaruma. The quaint town of Zaruma is situated in the mountains of El Oro province and has stunning views throughout the small town. Although Zaruma is relatively affluent, many of the surrounding communities grapple with poverty. We were fortunate that the local Rotary club found us a carpenter’s workshop to conduct the training. This meant we had easy access to electricity and tools like a table saw, chop saw, and several power drills.
We trained five local community members: Fabian, Evelio, Hugo, Jose, and Jonathan. The trip ended up being much less challenging than our previous trainings in Honduras and Bangladesh. Access to the carpenter’s workshop made construction a breeze. The five trainees built five Wood Molds and poured several concrete filters in four days.
After we returned back to the United States, Agua Limpia Ecuador took the training we provided and put it to use. There are now nearly 200 BioSand Filters in Guizhaguiña families’ homes, providing safe drinking water daily for approximately one thousand people!
Thank you for reading and for your support, we truly appreciate it.
Access to safe drinking water is a human right.
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