Concern America received $23,000 to be used in Chiapas (Mexico’s poorest state) to construct a water system and install filters in the village of Hermosillo and install filers in five additional villages, providing clean water to over 400 families (over 3,000 people).

Description of Project/Program, what makes it compelling, and the specific needs it will address:

The village of Hermosillo is an indigenous Mayan community, materially impoverished, and underserved, requiring 8 hours of challenging land and water travel from the nearest city. Its population greatly suffers from water-borne illnesses. The water system will service 100 families and includes: a spring source catchment tank and sedimentation tank, 2 miles of pipeline from the spring source to the community (including 500 meters which crosses a swamp – with crocodiles – and uses suspension bridges), a 6,600-gallon storage tank located high above the community (to bring water to each home by gravity), and 1.5 miles of distribution pipelines from the storage tank to every home and public building (i.e., school, clinic, town hall).  Each home in Hermosillo, as well as in 5 additional villages (where Concern America has recently built water systems), will also receive a filter. The villagers themselves build and maintain the system, using locally sourced materials. The water system will prevent up to 50% of water-borne and/or related illnesses.

Describe the Organization or Project as it pertains to the following Impact Giving Grant Standards-

High Impact & Life Transforming:

The system will provide life-sustaining water in every home in the village of Hermosillo.  Gastrointestinal infections, malnutrition, skin-related illnesses, and the weakening of the immune system are the leading causes of death and illness – all stemming from a lack of potable water. The increased access to clean water will prevent up to 50% of these illnesses. The hours saved in collecting and hauling water each day will allow more time for children’s education and for women to explore additional income sources (other than the farming of their small plots of land which is their main source of income) such as weaving and animal husbandry, increasing independence and the family’s financial stability.

Education:

(1) Training of community members to meet the needs of their villages (design, construction and maintenance of their own water system); and (2) Reducing the amount of time women and children spend collecting water (average 4 hours/day). Frequently, children have to stay behind from school and neglect their studies to haul water 1+ miles each way (children 1-3 gallons, women 3-6 gallons).

Sustainability:

The community builds their water system, learns to maintain and repair it on their own, and takes ownership of the project. All materials are sourced locally and the systems do not depend on expensive pumps or related technologies, keeping costs low and facilitating maintenance.

Community Building:

All projects begin with an invitation from local organizations, reflecting solid community participation and commitment at all levels.  Concern America works directly with each community, and only moves forward with projects when an entire village and its leaders approve the project and commit to its success.

Innovative:

Concern America’s model addresses pressing needs in isolated impoverished regions by engaging people themselves.  Rather than relying primarily on outside engineers or investing in the construction of elaborate systems, Concern America realizes the community members have the ability to develop their own solutions.

Measurable:

Concern America has created a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation rubric that involves pre- and post-project community visits and includes meetings with the entire community, the water committee, community leaders, and a sample group of families to gauge change and impact (e.g., decrease in number of illnesses).

Organization’s Mission Statement:

Concern America transforms need into self-sufficiency and has the vision to bring health care, clean water, education, and economic opportunity for every community worldwide. Concern America’s goal is to directly engage communities in health, sanitation, and income-generation projects that build upon existing local knowledge and experiences to train community members to become their own health care providers, water system builders, and cooperative business members.

Link to the website:   www.concernamerica.org