A Salvadoran community gets clean water

In the community of La Caridad, El Salvador, fetching water once meant a long, excruciating walk and a disappointing return. However, thanks to World Vision’s work, nearly 200 families now have access to safe, life-giving water right at their homes, including Reina, who lived the first three decades of her life without any such resource.

By Katia Dalila Maldonado and Kristy J. O’Hara
Published August 13, 2013 at 08:00am PDT

Reina is 33 years old — and she lived the first 30 years of her life without water access.

She lives in La Caridad, El Salvador, a community that historically received water from either a well about two-thirds of a mile away or a river about three miles away.

A history of struggle

In the dry season, these sources still weren’t enough, so Reina’s family and all the others in the area were limited to just one jug of water a day per family.

“Taking a bath was even a problem because we were much rationed,” she says. “We got up at 2 o’clock in the morning to go to the well to be the first ones to fill our water jugs, or else we walked to the river carrying our dirty clothes and water jugs. We bathed in the river, but due to the walking, we sweat, we got all dirty with dust, and came back home dirtier than before leaving home.”

Throughout La Caridad, others had similar experiences. Men, women, and children joined in caravans to go up to Paso Hondo River. The ones that had oxen to carry the water had better luck, but most of them carried the water themselves, causing damage to their necks, backs, and hips.

Fetching water took so much time that it prevented women from performing the work to protect the family’s health, take care of the children, and tend to crops. Sometimes children were even late to school because they had to help carry water.

Lack of water and poverty are interrelated and affect the most vulnerable communities. According to the World Health Organization, water scarcity affects four out of every 10 people in the world.

Life-giving interventions

For Reina’s community, though, hope sprung in 2003 when the city hall paid for diggers to come in and search for water. They didn’t initially find any, but the community insisted there was water, so the diggers continued.

They finally found it, and with help from government funds, the city hall constructed a water pumping system that supplied 98 families. It wasn’t enough for all 935 people — more than 700 of whom were under age 18 — in La Caridad, but it was a start.

Then, in 2011, World Vision helped strengthen the water system by constructing a 3,500-cubic-foot water tank and office. The organization also helped obtain legal status for the local association that oversees the water projects, and provided training and improved efficiency for the association and its board of directors.

Now, 186 families — including Reina’s — receive water at their homes.

“To live 30 years of my life without water has been difficult. I lacked water until 2011 when drinking water was introduced,” Reina says. “The water we drank was contaminated. It is sad to see that children get sick [from] drinking bad-quality water. They now live in paradise because they have good, pure, and healthy water.”

Multiplying benefits

Convenient access to water also facilitates domestic and agricultural work. Families can now grow vegetable gardens, and they can decorate the entrances to their homes with flower gardens.

But they don’t take the gift of clean water for granted. Parents teach their sons and daughters to take care of it and to get involved in water-preserving activities.

La Caridad is now a model for the surrounding communities, and soon more water projects in those areas will reach completion to help another 2,500 people.

“We have always trusted World Vision. It helped us to benefit more families with the vital liquid,” says Rigoberto Ramirez, one of the key leaders in the water association. “We always have water, whether there is electricity or not, with the construction of the tank. We have also been trained on project management, community organization, and water system self-sustainability. They inspired passion and dreams for the community in us.”

Learn more

Read more about World Vision’s global efforts to bring greater access to clean water and sanitation in communities in need.

Four ways you can help

Praise God for the improved access to clean water for families in La Caridad, El Salvador. Pray that similar stories would take root elsewhere in El Salvador and around the world where safe, life-giving water is out of reach.

Contact your members of Congress today. Urge them to cosponsor the Water for the World Act. This critical legislation would build upon the investments that the United States is making to improve global access to clean water and sanitation.

Make a one-time donation to World Vision’s Clean Water Fund. Your gift will help provide children and families in poverty with access to clean water through interventions like deep wells, water storage containers, piping systems, purification equipment, latrines and hand-washing stations, and more.

Give monthly to our Clean Water Fund. Your monthly contribution will help us reach even more children and families in need with greater access to clean water and sanitation.