2 December 2013 — A Tale of Two Waters


water molecule 2










Rotary International featured back-to-back features in its previous two weekly e-mail news updates which are connected in an interesting way.

The first, recognizing water that is most assuredly not clean, referred to World Toilet Day, officially recognized by the UN on 19 November every year. What we take for granted in developed countries is not always true everywhere. Sanitation is a major issue in much of the world.

The second, recognizing that clean drinking water is vital to health and staves off numerous other problems, referred to Rotary’s efforts to provide clean water where our Clubs and Rotarians can do so. We’ve discussed that issue before–we even spent a day Makin’ WAPI (new members, go look for that program, trust us on this)–but here’s some new information, as well as tying it together with a link to the website of the Rotarian Action Group known as WASRAG–water and sanitation.

From the Rotary International News…why toilets matter.  You should not have to be logged in to read this story on their website. (This includes the interview you may already have read in this month’s Rotarian Magazine, as well as other links.)

Here is the link to the Rotarian Action Group, WASRAG.  Pole around and see what’s going on around the world.

Finally, here is the text of an article from the RI website, including the video that appears on that page.

Water in Guatemala from Rotary International on Vimeo.


Early each morning, the students of Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta in El Tunino, Guatemala, trek down the mountainside on their way to school. They carry the essentials for the day: books, backpacks, and class projects. But one other item they used to haul from home is thankfully absent: a bucket of clean water.

The community of El Tunino is part of Sumpango, a rural region where access to clean running water is limited. Schools in the area offered the basics in education, but students learned quickly that drinking water and working toilets were not part of the curriculum. Today, that lesson is very different.

Using a global grant, the Rotary Club of Guatemala Sur, along with clubs in the United States, have provided washing stations and latrines, as well as kitchen equipment and furniture for this school and eight others in Sumpango.

Jorge Luis Chiquito, principal of Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta, says the availability of clean water and sanitation have had a significant impact on his students. With fewer illnesses caused by polluted water, the students are absent from school less and able to concentrate on their studies more.

“Having a hand-washing station and new latrines has made a huge difference,” he says. “We now have a better way of life for our students and their families, thanks to the help we received from Rotary.”

Clubs in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, all part of District 4250, sponsored 43 global grants, five of which were led by the Guatemala Sur club. Providing clean water was one of the club’s top priorities.

“Everything begins with water,” says Jorge Aufranc, past governor of District 4250 and a member of the Guatemala Sur club. “If there is no water, we cannot have peace. Where there is a lack of water, there is conflict.”

In the rural communities of Guatemala, it’s not uncommon for women and children to walk for 45 minutes, four or five times a day, to get water for the home. The water, which comes from polluted sources, is used for everything, including drinking, cleaning, and cooking.

The Rotary Club of La Antigua, Sacatepéquez, another local club, also took advantage of global grant funding to provide a chlorination system and latrines for the community of Chipastor in San Martin de Jilotepeque. The club partnered with the Rotary Club of Centerville-Farmington in Utah, USA, and Behrhorst Partners for Development, a U.S.-based nongovernmental agency that works with Guatemalan communities to improve health and well-being.

Community involvement was key to the success of both projects. Several of Guatemala Sur’s global grant projects were made possible by the volunteer labor of local workers and input from community leaders during the planning process.

“To have a good project, a sustainable project, you have to involve the community,” Aufranc says. “We have to think of it as their project, not ours. It is a project of the community, not a Rotary project.”

By Daniela Garcia

Rotary News



2 responses to 2 December 2013 — A Tale of Two Waters

  1. Buy in from locals is key on almost all projects for them to be sustainable. The other day, I was sitting in on a presentation about gardening and the teacher shared that you have to build into your garden a haven for the pests you are trying to keep from your plants.
    The idea here is that you are not trying to eradicate the pests, but bring things into balance. If you eliminate the pests completely, then the predator insects that eat the pests will leave and the pests come back. If you can keep the balance, create a synergy between the various players in the ecosystem, then it requires minimal maintenance, which supports long term sustainability. Keeping the solutions close to home, using community buy-in improves the odds for success by factors of 10s. Very exciting.

  2. The video is a great reminder of water and sanitation problems around the world. We took the opportunity at Thanksgiving to give thanks for the clean water and sanitation that we take for granted and to give a shameless plug to Rotary for its water and sanitation work around the world.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.