To get access to water and sanitation is a universal right, like health, Farmamundi develops integrated projects of health, water and sanitation in Guatemala, El Salvador and Peru for several years running with the support of local partners Salvadoran Association for Health Promotion (ASPS) in El Salvador, Development Services (SER) in Guatemala and Central Research and Development Promotion (DESCO) in Peru.

The strategy focuses on expanding coverage of services of general water supply, provision of wells and distribution systems and channel community and household drinking water, training health workers and awareness campaigns aimed at forming the population on preventive health practices to prevent disease and are benefiting more than 96,000 people from all three countries.

World Water Day 2011, under the theme "Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge" this year is intended to draw international attention to the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and the uncertainty caused by climate change, conflict and natural disasters have on the urban systems of water supply. It also aims to encourage governments, organizations, communities and individuals to participate actively to meet the challenge of urban water management.

Contaminated freshwater
Access to safe water is a major influencing factors for diarrheal disease prevention, especially in children, since according to studies by the Pan American Health Organization, that a family has access to safe water reduced by 50 % diarrheal episodes in children under 5 years. Approximately half the available fresh water in El Salvador is contaminated with feces, which explains the prevalence of gastrointestinal diseases in the population (especially children), making it the leading cause of morbidity and mortality nationwide.

Health, inadequate management of water from the catchment in the water source and its transportation to the place of consumption contributes to aggravate water pollution levels and recurrence of gastrointestinal diseases. "In El Salvador, 53% of children living in poverty suffer from 1 to 15 days a month from gastrointestinal infection caused by a lack of drinking water in their homes. In addition, infant mortality in children under 5 years living in households without water connection reaches a rate of 40 per 100 000 births, "explains the head of the project area Farmamundi, Emilio Oriola.

Specifically, Farmamundi several years been developing comprehensive health projects, water and sanitation in municipalities in the department of La Paz, Santa Ana and Cuscatlan (El Salvador), in rural communities of San Antonio Sacatepequez, Department of San Marcos in Guatemala and rural communities in Huancavelica, Peru. In these municipalities there is an obvious deficit of water and sanitation, which exacerbate the health situation of the population, due to the lack of concert among the authorities to improve the quality and quantity of networks of water services supply and drainage, as well as lack of resources at the municipal level and greater awareness about the importance of these basic services.

The Human Development Report of UNDP argues that a high percentage of rural households consume contaminated water, mainly of microbiological origin (with fecal coliform bacteria and Escherichia coli) and that limited access to basic services is one of the reasons for the high level of contamination . The pollution not only from the very sources of water, but also its subsequent management and a clear lack of knowledge of people on preventive health practices.
 
Preventive health campaigns and environmental sanitation
In this sense, a factor of concern is the continuing health epidemics affecting mostly children, caused by poor preventive health care, lack of water and lack of education and awareness to implement hygienic measures basic sanitation in communities. For example, in the risk map defined by the Health Units, and San Pedro Nonualco Tapalhuaca in El Salvador, some communities appear as areas of "high risk" due to the lack of water and gastrointestinal disease indicators registered health units and those whose priority is to improve these shortcomings.
 
In interviews with the families of these communities all agreed to recognize as the main barriers to community development, access roads in poor condition, poor access to community health services, low household incomes and lack of safe water for human consumption. In particular, the water shortage problem appears to be the most affected communities.
 
Likewise, social unrest is generated for the time spent in moving water as in rural areas, where potable water reaches only 65% ​​of the population is inverted between 9% and 14% of daily productive time in its collection.
 
Within the advocacy work undertaken by local NGOs in the three countries are the creation of water committees to ensure the proper use of water and streamline educational processes to the public on environmental issues, water protection, rational use, etc. Also develop fumigation campaigns and basic sanitation involving local NGO staff, health inspectors of the Ministry of Health, health workers and health committees.

The main activities are the elimination of mosquito breeding sites (mosquitoes), removal of trash and debris in the community, vector control, rodents, distribution of chlorine in the communities in need, inspection of latrines and use recommendations from house to house among others.

More information:
FARMAMUNDI Communication Area
Yolanda Anson comunicacion@farmamundi.org
Paloma Pérez, comunicacion2@farmamundi.org