Rio Blanco Water System Reconstruction Project

By Gerry Beltgens & Fernando Martinez
 
In the fall and winter of 2020 many communities in Central America were devastated by multiple hurricanes, tropical storms, landslides and flooding. This on top of the horrors of the pandemic. Millions were affected, tens of thousands were displaced or worse.
 
The water system for Rio Blanco was destroyed by flooding nearly a year ago. Every morning the women and children leave at 5:00am and walk 2 kilometers with wheelbarrows, buckets and plastic containers to get water. At the source they must wait for their turn to access the water with the other villagers. The men stay home to work in the coffee and bean fields or find work at neighbouring properties. There is only one vehicle in the town and it cannot negotiate the trail to the water. The Rotary Club of Comayagua met with the community to find a solution.
 
Disaster Aid will raise $14,800 Canadian ($11,750 US) to rebuild the water system. We can start phase 1 as we have $7,700 donated by Disaster Aid Australia, DA Canada and RC Comox. 
Phase 1 is the reconstruction of the dam and the building of a sand filtration system. Phase 2 will include the installation of the main water pipe to the village.
 
 
The community needs clean water to drink, cook, plant crops and stave off malnutrition and disease. The main staples of Rio Blanco are beans and tortillas with a little salt. Those that are better off may have a few chickens for eggs and some meat. Milk and meat are considered luxuries. Malnutrition is rampant among the children and many do not survive the first two weeks of life. To counter the low survival rate, the need for workers and the lack of old age security, families try to have more children. 
 
Rio Blanco is one of many remote communities to which the people fled, to escape the poverty and rampant violence of the cities. It is beyond the financial capability of the town to purchase the supplies needed and the government has been unresponsive. It is not safe to return to the cities and migration north to the US is very unsafe but often the only other option.
The Rotary Club of Comayagua and Disaster Aid Canada recently collaborated on a similar project for the community of La Mata in Honduras. Please see the DAC Website for details: https://disasteraid.ca/Stories/dac-and-rotary-clubs-restore-water-to-honduran-village 
 
Disaster Aid Canada has again teamed up with the Rotary Club of Comayagua to raise money for expertise, materials and transportation. The people of Rio Blanco will supply the labour and raw materials for the project. Most of the transportation will be over little more than mule tracks and will require 4x4 trucks to get the materials to the town. Next cement, pipe and other supplies will need to be transported several kilometres on foot and by pack animals to the dam location. Once that project is completed we will have a full report online to provide information and photos of the project. Project starts October 2021 and will be completed by December 2021.
 
 
Gerry Beltgens, Project Coordinator DAC Canada, Rotary Club of Ladysmith
Fernando Martinez, Project Coordinator Honduras, Rotary Club of Comayagua
 
Sponsors