Clean Water Is Everyone’s Right
The people in the Amazon suffer from chronic parasitic infestations, and thousands of children die each year from diarrhea caused by contaminated river water. More than 90 percent of diarrheal death is caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and insufficient hygiene.
Children weakened by frequent diarrheal illnesses are malnourished and vulnerable to other infections, such as pneumonia, leaving them physically and mentally underdeveloped. Additionally, in Amazonian communities, purchasing a bottle of water is more expensive than a bottle of soda, and so most people drink soda and are chronically dehydrated.
This situation worsened in 2010 after the Ucayali River broke through to the smaller, pristine, black water of the Yarapa River tributary where many communities Amazon Promise works in are located. This filled the Yarapa with sediment that almost overnight destroyed the river’s shores, killed the abundant trees that once lined the river and filled up beautiful, pristine lakes that the people once fished in.
The Yarapa was also where most of the communities in the surrounding area collected their drinking water. This is when we began to receive requests from community leaders to help them acquire clean water.
Amazon Promise Special Projects Manager, Jose Luis Valles
Another water harvesting system installed, job well done!
The primary challenge in implementing a clean water project is making sure proper steps are taken within the community to create a sustainable, affordable and easily maintained system. Community partnership and participation is priority number one, as they will be the caretakers of their water system.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is established between the community, Amazon Promise and Engineers Without Borders (EWB). Next, the community establishes a village water committee. Community meetings are held, and a construction team is assembled. Families are interviewed and receive water and hygiene education. Teams perform village assessments, and take soil and water samples.
Each family commits to either pay a small monthly sum or participate in system maintenance to ensure sustainability. Amazon Promise Special Projects Manager Jose Luis Valles is the on the ground to liaise between each community and EWB. He is also in charge of procuring supplies and building materials and makes several visits to each community before construction begins.
In 2015, we began our partnership with EWB Central Houston to construct rainwater harvesting systems in three more communities.
As of 2021, we have installed 15 rainwater systems, meaning 15 remote Amazonian communities now have access to clean drinking water. We plan to install four more systems by the end of 2022.
Our clean drinking water program has changed thousands of lives
We see huge health improvements after installing rainwater harvesting systems
Since the first rainwater harvesting system was put in place, we have seen a remarkable improvement in community health. Teachers report that school attendance is at an all-time high, and there are fewer emergency evacuations of people suffering from acute diarrhea. We now see people walking around with soda bottles filled with water instead of soda!
Everyone involved has an incredible sense of unity and satisfaction knowing that so many people are now living a better, healthier life.
To continue this life-saving work, Amazon Promise needs your help! Each clean water system costs run between US$7,000 – $8,000, a relatively small amount to give an entire village clean drinking water for generations to come!
Please go here if you would like to make a contribution to our Clean Water Program.
Map showing completed and planned installations