In rural El Salvador, many poor people still fetch their water from streams or fountains. Many of them catch diseases from contaminated water. Solidar has been supporting the installation of drinking-water systems while promoting the active involvement of local communities.
In 1999 Solidar Suisse began to assist in the reconstruction of El Salvador following the destruction in the wake of hurricane Mitch. Since then, Solidar has championed people's right to clean and safe drinking water. In rural areas, we have worked with partner organisations and municipal councils to create local water boards and to provide education. The boards are in charge of managing and maintaining the municipal water supplies, including social aspects. Municipal authorities not only pay for a portion of the costs of installation and repairs, they also undertake to support their water committees in sustainable water use and in keeping the water distribution system in good repair. Local volunteers contribute their share in the form of simple construction work.
The involvement of all stakeholders creates a strong sense of ownership, preventing the untimely deterioration of the distribution systems. Moreover, the involvement of locals in the introduction of water distribution systems also strengthens their commitment to preserve resources and to engage in other community activities.
The homes of 1,400 families – around 6,500 people – in eleven villages have been connected to the water distribution system between 2013 and 2016. Local representatives of El Salvador's Ministry of Public Health monitor the water quality and, together with municipal staff, organise home visits and educational events to promote general hygiene and sustainable water use. Until 2020 Solidar will install the water distrbution system for another 1200 households in 11 villages.