The equipment provided to 93 homes and seven (7) school and health centers includes a 10-liter portable solar water purifier, a compatible bucket, and an additional cloth filter that can be used as a pre-filter, as water quality across the rainy season grows murkier.
Access to safe and quality water was a daily problem for villagers from Cedritos and La Laguna in the Santiago de Puringla municipality of the La Paz department, located within the Honduran Dry Corridor. Vilma Hernández is one of the heads of household alongside 93 additional beneficiary families who will never again drink contaminated water thanks to the opportunity provided by the “Solar Energy Consumption of Safe Water” program provided by Zamorano thanks to sponsorship by the European Union.
Vilma´s family’s home received the portable solar purifier Solvatten in March 2020, after receiving training on its use and implementation for safe water consumption. “You can see the difference in the water; before we drank it dirty and now we drink filtered water”, she commented. The situation represents a radical change in consumption habits that will have a positive impact on pregnant women, children and the elderly, among others, by providing quality water for drinking, bathing, and cooking.
Thirty units of Solvatten equipment were distributed to the same number of families during the first trimester of 2020. It has been an opportunity to implement anew the units’ training methodology, as this is the first time they are used in Honduras and Central America. The purpose was to learn if the villagers would accept and adopt them. While the purifiers are easy to use, it was still a question as to whether families would embrace the training required and weigh it against the value added to each home, and chose to implement.
According to Dr. Adriana Hernandez, expert in Public Health and Human Nutrition, who is in charge of the project, the upside of this initiative is that it does not have negative effects on pollution to the environment. You do not have to boil water, as the purifier does it internally avoiding the use of firewood and the expense of fuel purchase. And finally, it is adaptable to either gas or electricity in homes, thereby broadening the number of homes that can take advantage of this equipment.
As part of the program launch, 120 villagers were trained in three components: “1: the use of the Solvatten equipment, 2: the safety afforded to people who can access safe water versus those whose water supply is quite possibly unhealthy to consume, and 3: the positive impact on the environment and the lower expense as there is no need to buy bottled water when leaving home since they can use a reusable container”, she mentioned. These trainings took place in groups of 10 people who received 20-minute conferences, shared conversations and were given posters to promote the better comprehension of the value of water.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the training methodology changed. An additional 70 water purifiers were delivered by the end of July, 2020 under biosecurity measures. The conferences continued with groups of 10 participants through short videos. After the training, and verifying they families understood the importance and use of the equipment, the solar purifier was provided along with a compatible bucket to be used as a safe water drain. More than 1000 villagers benefitted from the delivery of 100 water purifiers.
The project also included the collection of water samples to establish a microbiological comparison of the liquid they were drinking before versus after the use of the purifiers. The results of this chemical analysis allow for the replication of the initiative in other communities. Also, it strengthens community participation in water boards in order to establish a timely safeguard for their water sources. Families have grown to understand that they need to “take care of their water resources, not only in the environmental sense of reforestation, but also to protect water from animal and human feces pollution”, added Dr. Hernandez.