SDG 6 – Clean Water & Sanitation: Bringing Global Goals to the Last Mile

Welcome to Green Empowerment’s UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) series! The SDGs are a worldwide framework for creating a better and more sustainable future for all. So, how is Green Empowerment part of this global movement? While our work contributes to essentially all of the SDGs, Green Empowerment’s work specifically advances SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy, and SDG 17 – Partnership for the Goals. We believe that community-based development is a critical part of achieving these goals. Using a ground-up approach, we work with local partners around the world to strengthen communities by delivering renewable energy and safe clean water.

For the first blog in our UN Sustainable Development Goals series we are focusing on one of Green Empowerment’s key project areas: water, sanitation and hygiene.

Biosand Filters (blue tanks pictured above) use a combination of sand, gravel, and a biological layer to provide passive and active filtration of contaminated water sources.

SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation

It is said that 2.2 billion people lack safely managed drinking water and 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation. Without basic infrastructure, such as access to clean water and latrines, communities face higher mortality rates from water-borne diseases and spend hours retrieving water for their families. 

SDG 6 focuses on ensuring access to clean water and sanitation for all. Green Empowerment contributes to this goal by leveraging a variety of technologies and approaches to improve access to safe potable drinking water. These technologies include solar powered pumps, ram pumps, gravity fed water systems, biosand filters, sanitation, hygiene and watershed management.

Community members of Telembi, Ecuador hard at work collecting gravel and sand for their biosand filters (Photo Credit: Gustavo Huera Cuases)

Water Projects in Peru

Green Empowerment works around the world to improve access to safe potable water in rural areas. Let’s take a look at some of our projects in Peru:

Despite being home to world-renowned cultural landmarks such as Machu Picchu, natural wonders such as the Amazon Rainforest, and an abundance of natural resources,  75.6% of Peru’s rural population, a largely indigenous body, have access to basic and safely managed water services and only 56% have access to basic sanitation systems. 

In northern Peru, we are working with Water For People (WFP) to combat this challenge by improving drinking water services in health centers that will benefit more than 7,000 people in the districts of Cascas, Asunción, and Reque as well as providing drinking water to 26 families in the community of Chorrillo.

The Challenge in El Chorrillo

El Chorrillo is a village located in the District of Cascas, Peru. The village is a 45-minute (10km) drive from the main town of Cascas, on the road to Contumaza. As with many last-mile communities, the small size of the population and dispersed houses of El Chorrillo make it difficult to find government funds to finance potable water access. 

The population of roughly 85 people (26 families) and the community school did not have access to potable water service. Instead, the villagers resorted to hauling untreated water from a variety of unimproved spring and surface water sources scattered throughout the village. As with many public health issues, this lack of access disproportionately affects the most vulnerable members of the community – children and the elderly, and reports from a local health center confirm that community members frequently suffer from waterborne diseases such as bacterial infections, parasites, and skin allergies.

Katya , Peru Program Coordinator (right), stands with communities members from El Chorrillo next to the water captation site that protects water quality and controls the amount of water that comes into the houses.

Community-Led Solutions

Together, WFP and Green Empowerment are responding to the urgent request of local authorities and the community to deliver potable water for El Chorrillo. With the help of the community of El Chorrillo, a total of eight potable water systems were installed. This included six single-home systems and two multi-family systems.

To build ownership and ensure projects’ long-term viability, Green Empowerment engages communities from start to finish, providing technical expertise, training, funding and additional resources to local leaders and technicians. For instance, modeled from our previous projects with Las Tunas, the community of El Chorrillo took part in critical health education as well as systems and operation management training. These efforts, along with a newly formed Potable Water and Sanitation Committee, strengthen the long-term success of potable water projects in El Chorrillo. 

Working together to build a clean water system is often a catalyst for more community organizing. We are so impressed by the people in El Chorrillo for coming together to take this step. We look forward to seeing the ripple effects for generations to come.

Stay tuned for the next section in our series which will focus on SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy!

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