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The Los Buenos Vecinos Model

  reaches remote places and people

First- world solutions, bored deep wells, chlorination plants, and pipes into the homes, usually at a cost of $1,200 per family, are nearly flawless in delivery. Those solutions are not always practical in remote areas.  

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Guatemala organization Los Buenos Vecinos, (The Good Neighbors), LBV, attacks the causes of malnutrition by providing barriers to disease transmission. Its mission, Clean Hands/Clean Water is delivered with simple, scalable, and sustainable devices. Handwash devices called Tippy Taps, hand-wash stations, and easily maintained bio-sand water filtration systems, when combined with comprehensive UNICEF W.A.S.H. Water and Sanitation Hygiene education are shown to reduce infectious diseases 85% over ten-year study periods.

Single Family    Filter-8 People

Assessment protocol: Partnering with trusted and experienced local agents and government is essential to gathering community assessments and executing plans. A good example is the relationship between the municipal government the district of Acatenango and Los Buenos Vecinos where a long-term comprehensive plan has been developed to provide WASH education and provide pure water to reduce disease in the 13 communities of the municipality.

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Our Community Liter Clean-up

Following assessments, the schools receive a donated school size Tippy Tap hand-wash station. Then WASH education begins in the schools for proper hand-washing and drinking water practices. First the schools, then the community becomes included in educational meetings and activities. Later, the other UNICEF WASH sections of menstrual hygiene, latrine building, watershed management and food handling are included. AABC’s, that is Art and Activity for Behavioral Change includes role playing, music, games. Knowing that changing behavior is more difficult than learned behavior, several sessions are given. WASH CHAMPIONS are selected in each community. Those individuals are responsible for receiving and providing continuing education, and for monitoring outcomes

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Nurse Fredy Marroquin monitors water quality at AABC, change the name to Art & Activity for Behavioral Change.

Following delivery of the school Tippy Tap and initial WASH education at the schools and in the community, comes community-wide discussions of pure water filtration, community water management, and sometimes community enterprise. Topography and distance from homes to water source are considered in budgeting a community plan. Although single family home filters are provided to very remote homes, community systems are less costly and preferred for whole community engagement. Multi-family systems accommodate 25, 100, 200, 400 families or more. Filtration systems are located no more than ¼ mile from the homes- often at schools or clinics. The water source becomes “protected” according to WHO guidelines. The point of water source, POS, is generally hand-dug artisan wells as deep as 100’, or ground-springs with cisterns.

Tippy Taps were first developed in 1987, by an American Doctor in Zimbabwe, who fastened a suspended a gourd, operated by a board and a cord, so his clinicians could safely wash their hands. A modern adaptation is using a syringe with the tip cut off, inserted into PVC pipe. This little valve allows rinse, critically essential to wash away germs, with only the tap of the back of one's hand. The syringe method uses 60ML of water as opposed to 400 ML used by cup and bowl method. This savings of water is becoming nearly as important as the disease reduction of tippy taps; 43%-47%.

The social challenge of community-owned enterprise lies first in engaging un-banked people, who have no access to capital and generally do not participate any higher than the bottom rung in their economy; engaging those people with fundamentals of community enterprise. Donors are assured, in the least, the people will receive safe drinking water and UNICEF W.A.S.H. Water and Sanitation Hygiene training, with the possibility their donations will be re-loaned. 

Alternatively to purchasing pure water some people chose to gather or purchase wood fuel to boil water. This all-day process is expensive in time or money and contributes to deforestation and watershed degradation. Indoor smoke causes high rate of respiratory diseases. Or some people simply drink bad water.

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