Gaining safe water access amid the ongoing pandemic crisis

A group of Honduran men in a forest surrounded by bags of concrete and other materials to build a new water system

Water is an essential resource that many of us take for granted. It is especially crucial in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it allows basic and fundamental actions to prevent the virus spread: constant sanitation and hand-washing practices. Now, two communities in Northern Honduras have access to this key resource. Because of old and poorly-planned infrastructure, the people of the Laguna de Bañaderos and Santa Elena, two communities in the Manchaguala river basin at the Merendon Reserve Zone in Northern Honduras, did not have access to safe drinking water in their homes, despite there being plenty of available water sources in the surrounding environment.

Three men stand around a cement structure in the forest while building a new water system

WWF-Mesoamerica, with the support of The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF), works closely with communities on water conservation and management across Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize. When they learned of the water access problem in these communities, the local teams sprung into action. Over the next few months, WWF worked to determine why the communities’ existing water system had failed them, and to implement a permanent solution. A study indicated that the original drinking water systems were inefficient - built with poor-quality materials and unable to provide water in adequate quantity and safe quality.

WWF Mesoamerica, with the technical support of a civil engineering company, embarked on a project to replace these water systems. The communities contributed the labor needed to execute the construction work, under strict safety measures to reduce risks associated with the spread of COVID-19.

A girl smiles into the camera as she washes her hands under an outdoor faucet

Due to the pandemic, the project was initially put on hold for a month. However, after these 30 days the leaders of both communities wrote to WWF requesting to continue with the work.

Knowing how vital water access was for these communities, WWF agreed to resume activities under strict bio-security protocols for all project workers. WWF provided sanitizing materials, safety equipment, and training; strict social distancing measures were also provided to community representatives to reduce risks associated with the spread of COVID-19.

The completed project provided efficient drinking water systems, built to last in the long term, and will benefit 400 people from more than 100 households between the two communities.

Water access projects like this one have previously been conducted by WWF-Mesoamerica in Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize with the support of TCCF. Through this work we engage communities in watershed conservation and create an understanding of the link between conservation and the positive impact it can have on water quantity and quality in the long term. The communities are now fully involved in conserving the ecosystem upon which they depend. This latest project is further proof that, even in the face of adversity, working together can benefit the health of both people and planet.

A new water tank provides safe access to clean water for Honduran communities.