El Retiro never had a centralized water system that provided access to the entire community. Years ago, some workers from within the community built a small water catchment tank that collected water from two of the community’s strongest springs, directing the water through a plastic hose to 25 homes in the lower lying area of the community. The water was piped directly from the source to the houses with no central tank for storage and treatment, negatively affecting the quality and quantity of water arriving to the connected houses.
The majority of the families whose houses were not connected to this hose network accessed water from one of the many small streams and springs located throughout the community. A number of homes had connected hoses to one of these water sources to bring the water straight to their houses, while others walked to the nearest sources to bathe, wash clothes, and collect and carry water for household use. During the dry season, some of the sources dry up, and people hadto travel farther away from their homes to access water. Regardless of how they access water, there was no central treatment system, and few families treated their drinking water within their homes, increasing the risk of contracting waterborne sicknesses caused by bacteria and parasites present in untreated water.
The community of El Retiro was very well organized, with a Water Council that had already been sworn in by the local mayor. However, there was been no water fee established or paid by the community or a plumber trained to maintain the current dam structure or wells prior to the arrival of Global Brigades.
Water System Solution
Water Brigaders from16 different universities worked in El Retiro from December 2012 to March 2013. During that time, these volunteers worked with community members to:
• Install a new dam at the water source with a control and cleaning valve
• Build and paint a 10,000 gallon tank with chlorinator
• Dig approximately 10,000 meters of trench and install pipeline
• Connect 91 houses, 2 schools, 2 churches and 1 community center
• Paint 64 educational signs to place around the community
• Provide educational seminars to children in the community on water and health related topics
To ensure the sustainability of the project, a new nine member Water Council and a Basic Sanitation Committee were established and trained by Water Brigades. Two community plumbers were also identified and trained to maintain the new system. The community of El Retiro united to build their new water system alongside student volunteers. Not only did they dig trench and lay pipeline, but they also supported student volunteers hosting educational activities promoting healthy behaviors in the community. Together, student volunteers and community members worked together to host a Health and Hygiene fair. Moreover, all participated in a cultural exchange featuring acts ranging from traditional Honduran singing to Bollywood dances at the project inauguration in July 2013.
Water Project Stages
All stages of this water project have been completed.