Project Overview

This post provides a quick overview of our project. Please check out the links to the right for additional info, including our Power Point presentation and the site to donate to the project. Thanks!


The community of Cantón Santa Clara, El Salvador suffers from water-related illnesses associated with limited access to potable water and poor hygiene practices. Santa Clara (pop. 3,165) is a rural, agricultural community located in Southeastern El Salvador within the region of San Miguel and within the Municipality of San Rafael Oriente.

In 2004 the community reached out to Elizabeth Andrade and the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services about how to improve the health of the village. After an initial assessment, the public health team concluded that improving the water supply and improving key hygiene behaviors would provide the greatest benefit to the community.

Next, they approached the recently formed Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter in D.C. who agreed to take on this project and design a water distribution system. This project is the first project pursued by EWB that fully integrates public health and engineering practices and will serve as a model for the national network of EWB chapters.

Many other volunteer groups and organizations have been working together on this project and a detailed list can be seen at the bottom of this post. As of now, the public health program has yielded significant results and the first phase of the water system is under construction. However we still need funding to complete the remaining portion water system and are accepting tax-deductible contributions. Please see the link to donate. The community of Santa Clara has been actively pursuing a clean drinking water system and health program for many years. Together we can help them reach their goal.

Community Ownership and Sustainability

The goal for this project is to bring an improved quality of life to the community of Santa Clara for many years to come. Once installed, the water system and health promotion program will be community owned and operated, and follow-up trainings will be continually provided by GWU and EWB representatives, ANDAR (the local non-profit rural water development agency), Peace Corps Volunteers, and the Salvadoran Ministry of Health. ADESCO (Santa Clara’s Community Development Committee) will collect monthly water fees to financially sustain the health promotion and maintenance and repair of the water system.

The significant community involvement and financial investment in the project along with the democratic processes of ADESCO will insure the social sustainability as well. Most importantly, this project will empower the people of Santa Clara to have more control over the health of their families and over their future, with a lasting impact that is of undeniable benefit and of utmost importance to this community.

Project Partners Include:
(funders/contributors in-kind*)

• *Santa Clara’s ADESCO (Community Development Committee) has been the driving force behind the project, from the initial stages of conceptualization to the current stage of implementation. They will represent the community in their ownership of the resultant water and hygiene project.

• *The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (GWU SPHHS) initiated the relationship with the community of Santa Clara in 2004 by conducting a needs/assets assessment and assembled the partnership in 2005. GWU SPHSS has been the guiding force in developing the project, conducting formative assessments and serving as a community liaison. GWU SPHHS provides training and oversight of the hygiene program.

• *Engineers Without Borders-DC Professionals Chapter is the lead technical group working on technical assessment, design and implementation of the water system construction, as well as fundraising. All of the project costs are financed by charitable donations.

• *Engineers Without Borders-Catholic University Student Chapter was instrumental in conducting technical assessments, working on the water system design and constructing a Water/Hygiene Office for project management purposes.

• *Peace Corps has stationed two fantastic volunteers in Santa Clara, Emily Putzer (3 years of service) and Sean Cox (currently in his second year of service). They serve as community liaisons and as a ‘go-to persons’ training community members, managing the hygiene promotion project and empowering residents.

• ANDAR (Salvadoran non-profit for rural water development) – is an association of rural water systems who are the in-country technical partners and oversee construction. They also do community training in the areas of: Operation & Maintenance; Administration, like transparent bookkeeping, end of year income/expense reports & development of user fees; General and state laws governing potable water systems; Protection and conservation of the water source; Empowerment-to encourage leadership as owners of the system; Management of the Water Board (ADESCO), including participatory; democratic decision-making; roles of leadership.

• *Local municipal government of the San Rafael Oriente provides tools and financial support for the project.

• *Salvadoran Ministry of Health (MOH) has assisted with initial assessments, water testing, provides additional training, and an MOH health promoter, Josefa Jurado, oversees the hygiene promotion project.

• *Colgate-Palmolive and the American Public Health Association (APHA) funded the start-up costs for the hygiene promotion project.

• *Rotary, last but not least! is the primary sponsor of the water system. The Rotary Club-Glen Burnie has coordinated fundraising effort and they have partnered with Rotary Club-Chaparrastique in El Salvador.