Blue Planet Network

Our mission is to exponentially increase the impact of safe drinking water programs for people around the world. Beyond health, accessing clean drinking water is the critical first step for communities to rise out of poverty, to gain education, and to ensure economic and political stability. Our goal is to enable safe drinking water for 200,000,000 people in the next 20 years and we need your help.
Nov 23, 2012

Update: Women and Water in California

Photos taken by Sara Cozolino on November 1, 2012
Photos taken by Sara Cozolino on November 1, 2012

When you look at the facts, what women stand to gain from access to safe drinking water is priceless - to themselves, their families and the world economy at large. Did you know that worldwide, it is estimated that on a single day women can spend over 200 billion collective hours fetching water? And yes, you guessed it, if they are lugging water, they certainly aren't tending to their families and they aren't in school or running businesses. 

But the fact that isn't as often profiled is that women aren't just the benefactors of clean water and sanitation, they are leaders that enable it rise to community discussion and action.

I'll take a moment here to talk about Community Water Center, a Blue Planet Network member, that is a prime example of the courageous work being done by women for woman.

Community Water Center (CWC) operating in San Joaquin Valley, California is bringing the public's attention to just how much work needs to be done in small towns, like Seville, CA, where the tap water system is laden with pesticides, nitrates from animal waste, and chemical fertilizers due to the heavy agricultural climate. The tap water is undrinkable and families resort to buying expensive bottle water - double the cost of tap water! Imagine needing bottled water to bathe, to wash clothes, to brush teeth? One might be tempted to drink from the tap once in a while to save a quick buck or some time otherwise spent lugging water jugs, however the negative health effects, such as thyroid disease, are just too risky.

Founded and directed by women, Community Water Center works to help families, such as Bertha Diaz's family of three women, featured here.  

Bertha Diaz, 43, discusses her frustrations with Abigail Solis of CWC regarding the water contamination in her home in East Orosi, CA, while her daughters Maribel Sanchez, 24, and Jessica Sanchez, 19, look on. The need for clean water is an emergency to Bertha, who has a spinal cord injury. She works long hours picking oranges in fields nearby, carrying buckets full of the fruit, which hurts her back. In addition, every 3 days she has to buy jugs of Sparkletts water and carry them, which adds to the pain. Her feelings on the need for clean water were clear when she stated (via translator), “When I go to any important meeting and speak to people of power and they ignore me because they feel my situation isn’t an emergency, to me it’s like a person being ignored when they go to the emergency room because the hospital doesn’t think it’s that bad and the person ends up dying because they were ignored.” Photos taken by Sara Cozolino on November 1, 2012

The bottom line here: with your donation you have enabled powerful Blue Planet Network members, just like Community Water Center, to do more than they could ever dream of doing alone.

And the pleasant dream of my neighbors drinking tap water without fear, just like I am privledged to do, is one dream I personally would like to make reality.

Thank you so much.

Photos taken by Sara Cozolino on November 1, 2012
Photos taken by Sara Cozolino on November 1, 2012

Links:

Aug 10, 2012

Real Stories of Women & Young Girls Benefitting from Safe Water

Eisha Shaban - Tanzania
Eisha Shaban - Tanzania

We are delighted to share with you some of the personal stories and reports of the women and young girls who are now living a better life due to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in their communities. Their days spent fetching clean water and suffering from simple water borne diseases have been drastically cut due to the completion of water facilities that Blue Planet Network has funded. 

Thank you to all our donors for continuing to make these uplifting stories possible. 

However Blue Planet Network's work is far from done, and we will keep you updated each step of the way.

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Kalembo Secondary School, Songea Ruvuma, Tanzania
Project Implementer : Ruvuma Mission to the Poor and Disables (PADI)

"We students of Kalembo Secondary school, we send our greetings of thanks to you [Blue Planet Network], all our fellow Schools from USA, and all others who in one way or another have helped us access Clean and safe water in our school. The bore hole you have build for us has reduced several problems we have been facing for more than 6 years now. Among the problems we have been facing are: 1) Loosing several classes due to long distance moving to collect some water 2) Drinking un-safe water for our health as we were fetching from local dug wells 3) School building construction was also tough as we traveled the same distance in order to get water for the work. 4) The same wells we used to collect some water we were sharing with animals like pigs and dogs. Your assistance has made us free from above problems. We are now ensured with good health and improving our academic performance as most of our time will be used in academic issues.

Thank you very much for considering our need.

Yous sincerely,

Eisha Shaban - Head Girl "

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Chamasowa Village, Malawi | Litchenza Samuti and Chamasowa Project
Project Implementer : Water For People

"My name is Rhoda Chiputu, I am 10 years old. I come from Chamasowa Village and am in Standard 3 at Chamasowa Primary School....Now that there is a borehole in my community, the scarce drinking water has become easily accessible; the distance to the water source has been much reduced; and this rainy season I have not suffered from diarrhea. I now spend less time collecting water than before and have more time to do my homework and concentrate in school. My performance is improving."

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Kalampatzon, Guatemala
Project Implementer : Agua Para la Salud

Date of Visit: April 2010 | Report by: Jodi Moss | Photos by: Tristan Moss

Petrona Matrom Cobo’s life has changed significantly since the Guatemalan not-for-profit organization Agua para la Salud, installed a water distribution system in her village (Kalampatzon) in 2009 and 2010 with funding from Blue Planet Network. Before this, Petrona walked about three kilometers each way to a nearby river to collect water. Several trips each day were required to collect enough water for her family of seven. Petrona also carried her laundry each day to her relative’s house in their neighboring village.

Petrona now has a faucet with running water next to her kitchen. This leaves Petrona with more time. She is able to make her children’s clothes and she is better able to tend her crops. She composts, and uses the grey water from her faucet to irrigate her garden. Last year, she fed her family almost entirely from her garden and did not have to buy any corn (Guatemala’s staple food). All of these things save her money.

Kalampatzon’s new water system also is relieving population pressures in neighboring villages. During the civil war, Kalampatzon was destroyed and its residents were forced to flee from their homes. Only about ten of 55 families returned to Kalampatzon after the war. The others moved to overpopulated neighboring villages. Now that Kalampatzon has a water system, the families are starting to rebuild their homes and return to their land.

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Rhoda & Students - Malawi
Rhoda & Students - Malawi
Petrona & her daughter - Guatemala
Petrona & her daughter - Guatemala

Links:

Jun 8, 2012

Blue Planet Network Project Update June 7th 2012

Meeting with panchayat members
Meeting with panchayat members

Thank you again for so generously enabling Blue Planet Network to fund our NGO member Project Well.

So many of you stepped up to the plate that we were able to fund not only 5 modern bore-dugwells -as originally planned - but 8 wells.

Of particular note, the funds raised through Global Giving were $7835.00. However, additional funds were raised offline in a community event dubbed "Hope for Water" in Fairfax, CA, bringing our total to $10,000, meaning many more people will directly benefit from this increase in funding.

The project is now fully funded and construction will being by July 2012. The wells will take approximately one year to build, start to finish, allowing for logistical problems the site, weather, or community, might present.  

There has been a location change of these wells from Nadia to the community development block Gaighata, of the North 24 Parganas district. This site change was made for two reasons: 1) On a field visit to Gaighata on May 17th, 2012, Project Well assessed the maintenance of a few existing wells. Due to extremely high usage, with some residents needing to arrive at 4am in the morning, dredging has become necessary. On the visit, there was a request by the panchayat member Jayanta Biswas and the female panchayat head (pictured above) to reduce the pressure of the usage on the existing wells by building new bore-dugwells in the Jaleshwar II panchayat. [Panchayat def: local self-governments at the small-town level]. And secondly, 10 wells on the Chakdahblock of Nadia have also recently been funded by another Project Well partner, Arghyam, relieving the need to build more wells in Nadia. The groundwork of site selection is happening now throughout the month of June (while masonry work of the other wells built by Project Well will be going on simultaneously!) and the actual boring and digging will begin in July. 

The fact that Project Well is focused specifically on water projects in West Bengal, India, means the organization can respond to the unique social and political climate and flex to local season challenges, such as monsoons.  It's front and center in Blue Planet Network's mission to fund local, specialized NGOs such as Project Well. The resultant efficiencies, such as indicated here, are invaluable.

The design of Project Well's modern bore-dugwells are far superior to the older designs of borewells, locally known as tub wells.  A "dug well" or hole is dug and fitted with a concrete pipe, larger in diameter the PVC piping that carries the water to the pumps, and effectively keeps the drinking water separate from the water bearing sediment layers that might otherwise leech arsenic water into the drinking water over time. The wells will be sheltered and fed by rainwater, not groundwater, and treated with chlorine based disinfectant. Users will extract water via a traditional hand-pump. Project Well has fitted electric pumps in other wells in the West Bengal area, and it's our hope that these Gaighata wells might be outfitted similarly in the future. These are the types of modifications and advancements that are made possible when we exceed funding goals for a project. Most residents will fetch water from these wells twice a day for drinking and cooking. Consumer demographic data will be gathered on the wells' impact approximately 6 months later.

As for continuing education, Project Well has been holding village meetings in schools and using projectors to show films on arsenic and its health effects. By showing pictures -at times disturbing photos of illnesses- on large screens or placards, the importance of using these modern bore-dugwells and engaging in proper hygiene practice is truly brought to light. Women disproportionally outweigh men as societal caretakers and water collectors, hence Project Well is focusing efforts on bringing these lessons to women specifically. This type of community education is crucial, and many cases, makes or breaks the success and sustainability of water projects.

Education of the users groups will continue even after the wells are built. The need to instill the use of these arsenic-free wells is very important as residents can easily fall into established routines and habits of using the old wells that tap arsenic laden groundwater.  It's tub wells, shallow or deep, that are responsible for poisoning the residents without them even realizing as the arsenic in water is odorless and colorless, in effect, undetectable. This problem is expounded by the fact that health effects of arsenic take years to manifest physically, meaning people have no gauge or immediate tangible proof that what they are doing to themselves is harmful. Project Well faces the challenge of convincing the residents "Out with the old and in with the new!" - and it can be an uphill battle at times.

Pertaining to maintenance and training, both men and women will be trained in the maintenance of the wells, including in the application of the chlorine-based disinfectant Theoline, and in minor wear and tear repair. Subsequent visits by Project Well to Gaighata will be approximately once a month for a year, until the operation and maintenance of the dug wells become sustainable. After that, field workers will conduct inspections once or twice a year. 

Please see the photos provided by Project Well. They detail the construction process of previous projects. The wells in Gaighata require the same procedure.

***Thank you again for bringing arsenic and bacteria safe water to residents of Gaighata.***

 

Boring -making or enlarging a hole - comes first.
Boring -making or enlarging a hole - comes first.
Boring
Boring
Concrete rings laid and course sand poured around.
Concrete rings laid and course sand poured around.
PVC piping to carry water.
PVC piping to carry water.
The final product.
The final product.

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