247050 Improving Community Health through the Construction of Potable Water Sources and Community Environmental Education

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kristen Gunther, MPH(c) , Department of Global Health, Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Loma Linda, CA
Ryan G. Sinclair, PhD , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Loma Linda, CA
Javier Bojorquez , Suma Marka- NGO, Suma Marka, Puno, Peru
Approximately 884 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. In Peru, only 63 percent of the rural population has access to clean drinking water. Parina and Huaquina are rural communities in the Andes Mountains located in one of the poorest regions throughout Peru and South America. These communities demonstrate some of the worst health disparities throughout the country with high mortality rates and significant environmental health concerns. The Parina community obtains essential drinking water from ground springs contaminated by human and animal waste, increasing the potential for disease. Community members also lack educational resources to understand the importance of clean water use and sanitation. This project sought to improve the health of community members in Parina and Huaquina by creating sustainable potable water sources, increasing community environmental health education, monitoring project progress, and evaluating outcomes. In collaboration with a Peruvian non-governmental organization, community members in Parina were recruited to construct a drinking water well and protected spring box. Environmental health education was conducted in Parina and Huaquina utilizing promotores de salud (health promoters). At the end of the project, one community well with a cement cap and hand pump and one protected spring box was constructed in Parina by five community construction workers. Ten promotores de salud were trained in Parina and Huaquina on potable water use, contamination prevention, sanitation, hygiene, and environmental sustainability. Project activities were evaluated to determine effectiveness of improved water sources and increase in knowledge among community members. The mechanically simple infrastructure of the well, community training on well maintenance, environmental education, and collaboration with a local organization contribute to project sustainability. The simple well infrastructure and community empowerment methods utilized in this project can be easily replicated in other resource-poor communities to provide safe and sustainable drinking water sources to improve community health.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify sustainable potable water sources for resource-poor communities throughout Peru. 2. Describe effective and interactive methods of community environmental health education and promotion.

Keywords: Water, Community Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a graduate student who facilitated research and intervention implementation on this project
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.