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Project 350 Report: Part 3 of 4 Safe Water for Rural Communities of Ecuador

Safe Water Access for rural communities in Ecuador. June, 2012


MAP (Medical Assistance Program) International is a Faith based nonprofit non-government organization whose vision is to have a world in which individuals, families and communities have the hope and capacity to build conditions that promote Total Health. The mission of MAP International is to promote Total Health of people living in the world’s poorest communities by partnering to provide essential medicines, prevent and mitigate disease, disaster and other health threats, and to promote community health development (known within MAP as the 3P strategy). MAP’s definition of Total Health is ‘Communities taking ongoing,








wellbeing’. Nearly 40 % of the 14 million inhabitants of Ecuador live under the level of poverty. Within these populations there is an immediate risk of diseases related to poverty. Improving water delivery, sanitation, and hygiene (WSSH) are critical to health, development and survival (CDC, 2011). If the water is filtered and purified, it can make a significant difference in reducing the disease burden that could be as high as 75 % of the disease load that the community encounters. This has a clear impact on reducing mother and child mortality rates.


project proposes the introduction and use of a special water filter that has proven capabilities and a long life. The project will be launched in twenty-two needy communities in rural regions where MAP International is working in Ecuador.

2. OBJECTIVES 2.1 Improving Health and Accomplishing Positive Changes with regard to the use of safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation in 22 rural communities in Ecuador through the installation of 350 Sawyer filters. Also, the use of training, monitoring and continued guidance and education by MAPEC and local health care promoters will be a major objective. 2.2 Researching, Testing and Documenting the Performance of the Filter in rural communities of Ecuador.

Geovanny Santamaria. Quito-Ecuador

Safe Water Access for rural communities in Ecuador. June, 2012



Community Filters People













Through this project, the lives of 2,1001 people (CENSUS, 2010) will be dramatically changed. They will experience better health and education about sanitation, both of which will have resounding positive effects that touch on almost every other aspect of their lives. The activities carried out during these three months are related to the following:

Educational Process Now that the delivery and implementation of the 350 filters and the identification of the most relevant and important topics for families in the three regions has been finished, the educational process in different communities with the direct object of contributing to generating positive health changes has started.

Map International's educational proposal looks at the water situation as a community matter that involves all families, and not just as an individual or family matter. The whole community shares the same adverse reality of the water situation, and the effects of deficient quality and quantity worsens the health of all the families in the community. For this reason, the educational process we are carrying out not only transmits information to families, but also seeks to set up open, free, democratic spaces to think, propose, analyze, and reflect on how the water situation affects their lives and take action at a community level.

The implementation of the filters has become a strategic entry point to look at, get to know, and learn about the families' internal reality. Without an educational process carried out with cultural sensitivity, with knowledge of the context in the different regions, and above all, with an adequate followup strategy, the changes are not sustainable.


*The average size of Ecuadorian families per National Census is 5.2 and higher in rural areas where it is approximately 6.0, multiplied by 350 filters, equaling a total of 2,100 people.

Geovanny Santamaria. Quito-Ecuador

Safe Water Access for rural communities in Ecuador. June, 2012

The population would benefit from having taken part in workshops, meetings, and educational campaigns. Currently, it is estimated that about 1,800 people in the three regions are affected. Because of this, many communities are in different processes of action and responding to the water situation. Many companies are evaluating their water systems, others are analyzing how to cut down on wasting water, others are trying to improve the management of water sources, and others are trying to improve the environment. The results of this process and achievements will be presented in the next report. Next, I will show a collage of photos of the delivery of the filters in six communities and training events in these communities.

Geovanny Santamaria. Quito-Ecuador

Safe Water Access for rural communities in Ecuador. June, 2012

Filter Performance To learn about how well the filter works and how families are using it, an instrument was designed to pick up relevant information and give us the best understanding of its use and the impact that access to safe water has on families. Furthermore, group exercises were carried out using interactive methods and key community members were interviewed to compare and contrast with the generated information. The information comes from ten communities with a sample of 120 people representing families, leaders, and representatives of educational centers that use the filter in the three regions. Next, I will show the most relevant results which correspond to the doubts about this project.

Problems with the Filter

One parameter that was analyzed was to find out if families had problems using the filter. Graphic 1 shows the decreasing distribution by region, with the Amazon region having the most problems using the filter, followed by the Andes region and the Coast. Each region has peculiarities related to climate, precipitation, water sources, and family behavior. For example, the Amazon region has a lot precipitation, with more than 3,000 mm of rain, and water sources are varied. The principle Graph 1 problems mentioned by families are related to filter blockage and reduced water flow 80% of the time. It was observed that the families who used river water and water with a lot of sediment experienced greater and more frequent blockage of the filters due to the greater quantity of sediment (lime and clay), whose fine particles blocked the filters, in the water. The vast majority of families in the Amazon clean the filter four or five times a week.

Geovanny Santamaria. Quito-Ecuador

Safe Water Access for rural communities in Ecuador. June, 2012

Regarding this, Graphic 2 shows the connection that exists between knowing how to clean the filter and problems posed, especially with blockage. The families that know how to clean the filter correctly are the ones who have the fewest problems with it. However, it could be observed that few families knew how to clean the filters, they didn't do it frequently, and they waited until the filter was completely blocked to clean it. In other families, the syringe had been lost, or the family members didn't know how to clean it. Likewise, it could be observed that in the Graph 2 vast majority of the families, it was the adults who cleaned the filter, and it was usually the wife and mother of the family who took the responsibility of cleaning the filter in the majority of cases. Regarding this, a quick test was also administered to find out the quantity of water that flowed out of the filter in a set time. Of the 30 samples taken from random families from three communities in each region, the chart shows the difference in the water flow compared to the data from December 2011. The average water flow per filter was 22.6 liters per hour. It is not possible to make a generalization about all the communities because the sample is very small and doesn't consider other factors such as the size of the water receptacle, water turbulence, cleanliness of the filter and pre-filter, etc. What the graph does reflect is the decrease over time of the quantity of water passing through the filter. Because of all of this, monitoring is very important, since it allows us to reinforce what we know about the care and cleaning of the filter and analyze water sources and types of containers used. During visits by the promoters and personnel of Map to families, they have been permitted to better explain maintenance procedures and recommendations to all members of the family. This has helped reduce blockage problems significantly. One problem that came up in 10 families was the hardening of the syringes. It appears that the internal rubber expands and hardens. This has stopped these families from cleaning the filter.

Geovanny Santamaria. Quito-Ecuador

Safe Water Access for rural communities in Ecuador. June, 2012

Currently, we are looking for new syringes in the local market that could be used for the cleaning of the filter.

Use of Pre-Filter The use of a pre-filter is recommended when the available water has a lot of sediment. Graphic 3 demonstrates that the use of the pre-filter in the three regions is low: less than 20% of the families use some kind of material to retain particles. The families who were interviewed mentioned that the incorporation of a prefilter implies a new practice which a lot of families aren't adopting, it requires additional effort, they don't understand it very well, and there isn't always an adequate







increasingly adopting this practice using clothing material.

Graph 3

Assessment of Filter The parameter for assessing the value and usefulness of the filter was analyzed in relation to the perceived benefits the family gets from using the filters to obtain safe water, their availability, and economic capacity to pay for a filter. Graphic 4 show a majority tendency regarding the willingness to pay for the filter. Graph 4 Around 90% of the families say they'd pay for a filter. The families expressed that their willingness to pay was due to the perceived benefits of its use, the most mentioned being better health and well-being. What stands out most is the reduction in illnesses such as diarrhea and stomach pains in their children. They also mentioned that it's a method that provides a better quantity of water at a lower cost and that the whole family is now accustomed to drinking water from the filter. In addition, families were

Geovanny Santamaria. Quito-Ecuador

Safe Water Access for rural communities in Ecuador. June, 2012

asked about how much money they would be willing to pay for the filter. Results were varied, and results were placed in 4 categories, which permitted better comprehension and systematization of the information.

Economic Value of Filter Continuing on the same line of analysis, Graphic 5 shows a distribution of the amount of money the families are willing to pay for a filter in each region. The highest appraisal is seen in the Andes region; where close to 70% of families would pay more than $20 for the filter. The opposite was seen in the Amazon, where more than 90% of the families would pay less than $20 for the filter.

Graph 5

This appraisal is directly related to the improvement of health and to family income. In the case of the Amazon, based on studies and Map's own experience working in the communities, it's the region with the lowest income per family. A large part of the food consumed comes from the families' own farms. They work and grow food on their own land.

According to the families interviewed, a monetary value is assigned according to family income and capacity to pay. For that reason, we can affirm that the value assigned by the families in each region is similar, since it is in proportion to family income.

Financing is something very important to the families when they talk about the economic value of the filter. Families mention that through means of quotas or monthly payments, they could pay more than $30 in all cases. There are also families willing to pay more than $60 for the filter. Other families mention forms of payment such as days of labor or payment with products or harvested crops.

Geovanny Santamaria. Quito-Ecuador

Safe Water Access for rural communities in Ecuador. June, 2012

Quantity and Importance of Safe Water

When asked about whether they thought the amount of available water had gone up in comparison to the amount the family had consumed without the filter, Graphic 6 shows a highly positive distribution: more than 70% of the families’ say there is more available water for the whole family. The principle use of water is drinking it directly, or in juices and prepared medicines, and in smaller quantities, it is used to cook. Also, all of the families affirmed knowing the importance of Graph 6 having safe water for the family, the principle reasons cited being getting rid of sickness, parasites, having better health, and saving time and money compared to other methods of water treatment. In the next report, we will analyze the increase in the amount of water consumed by the family with the use of the filter. Finally, an analysis was carried out comparing the Sawyer filter with other common water treatment methods for families in the three regions. The exercise was applied to focal groups who are using the filter. The information presented was generated in an interactive form and under general consent. It tried to unify criteria in order to get the best understanding of the place the Sawyer filter has in the lives of families and how it will evolve over time.

Position of the Filter Compared to Other Methods

One important aspect was the analysis of the position the filter has compared to other common methods that are used or promoted in the communities where the project was implemented. By means of an interactive exercise applied to 7 focal groups in different communities, we were able to learn the following:

Geovanny Santamaria. Quito-Ecuador

Safe Water Access for rural communities in Ecuador. June, 2012

The best-known or most used methods to gain access to safe water for families are: boiling the water, buying treated water, chlorine, solarization, and the filter. A matrix was created to compare these methods to each other to learn the preference among methods, their criteria for being chosen, and experiences in the use of these methods.

Preliminary Results As a conclusion to the exercise, the absolute preference for the Sawyer filter could be observed in all cases. The second most preferred method was boiling water, and use of chlorine was third. The principal criteria mentioned for preferring the filter were:  Saving time and money when obtaining safe





methods.  It's not necessary to worry about dosage or to be really careful as is the case with chlorine or boiling water.  It doesn't add any chemicals to the water and doesn't change the flavor. This is highly valued. In comparison, the use of chlorine and boiling the water both change its flavor.  It's not necessary to use energy or natural resources, compared to boiling the water with gas or wood or sun for the SODIS method.

Geovanny Santamaria. Quito-Ecuador

Safe Water Access for rural communities in Ecuador. June, 2012

 Greater quantity of water available all the time, compared to other methods.  Greater trust and security regarding drinking water, because one knows the source of the water. This doesn't happen when one buys large bottles of water which are expensive and have odors and contamination.  It is easy to use and maintain. Even children can use it, which is not true of other methods.  Less effort and work to get safe water. Other






maintenance and the quantity of water is limited.

Conclusions MAP International is developing the experience of contributing to the access of safe water in impoverished areas. With the implementation of Sawyer filters within a health promotion program, great results are possible and it becomes an effective path to greater changes at the community level. This report presents information gathered from families currently using a filter. This contributes to better comprehension of the reality of the water situation and how it influences the lives of the families and how to make better strategies for change. In the fourth and final report, we will present the reach and impacts that this project has generated in the communities, analyzing other variables and complimenting this method of analysis put in place at the beginning about the carrying out and work potential with the implementation of filters in the communities. Finally, we express our gratitude to the families and health workers who do extraordinary work in their communities and whose commitment makes it possible to learn and fills us with hope and certainty that comprehensive health is possible.

Geovanny Santamaria. Quito-Ecuador

safe water access