In the aftermath of a devastating flood in Peru, learn how one woman worked in partnership with a local nonprofit to provide her community with clean water.
Betty Guerra Fasabi
Who She Is:
Betty Guerra Fasabi, 62, a native of Tarapoto, San Martín, has been in the Uchiza district of Peru for 34 years. Although Betty has never held a formal leadership role in her community, she has always been deeply involved. After her community suffered major flooding, Betty worked with the local nonprofit, Diaconía, to assess the degree of impact for the families being selected to receive flood relief assistance.
On December 12, 2019, torrential rains hit the community of Uchiza, San Martín, Peru, causing landslides and flooding that destroyed homes and limited access to electricity and potable water. Without access to clean water, community members had no choice but to use water from the contaminated rivers and cisterns, putting them at risk for waterborne illnesses. GlobalGiving partner DIACONÍA (Asociación Evangélica Luterana de Ayuda para el Desarrollo Comunal) led recovery efforts, facilitating cooperation between local officials and community leaders to ensure that families were able to access the clean water they needed to survive.
With the help of GlobalGiving and those who so generously donated through the Facebook crisis donate button, Diaconía was able to purchase 12 water filters for the district of Uchiza. To help them assess the needs of the community, they called local leader Betty Guerra Fasabi. With Betty’s insight, Diaconía was able to distribute 12 clean water filters where they were needed most.
Q: What do you wish more people knew about how your community was impacted by the flooding?
A: Flooding from heavy rains has harmed the water supply to our community. The cisterns sent by the municipality to provide help often do not cover all the neighborhoods of our district. This has forced us to consume water from the rivers or through wells that we started to build to help ourselves. This consumption method puts us at risk of contracting all kinds of diseases due to the fact that the river is never clean, and a lot of trash is accumulated.
Q: How have the funds you received from Facebook + GlobalGiving made a difference for your community?
A: We are very grateful for the help provided—it is actually the first time we have received help from people outside of our community. Before this, no one had bothered to help us find a solution to improve our problems with water. These 12 water purifying buckets are the first in the area, and we are trying to pass this solution onto other neighborhoods with the help of our local authorities so all those who were affected can benefit. We are already insisting that purifying buckets are an important and economical way to improve our living conditions.
Q: What are the greatest unmet, long-term needs in your community?
A: There are many needs that we have—the issue of water is just one of them. Although we had a source that provided us with water before the disaster, it wasn’t always safe for our consumption. We also have issues with our drains, since we don’t have a drainage system, only septic wells that we made.
Additionally, the health centers are understaffed, far from the neighborhoods, and do not have all the resources needed to respond in an emergency situation. It doesn’t help that we are given little information and almost no training to deal with these disasters.
Q: What about your local community’s response to this flooding makes you most proud?
A: Within our community, we try our best to be helpful and supportive of others because help from the authorities is often delayed or doesn’t come at all.
We have to search for the solutions ourselves, and I think that is what I am most proud of, that we do not give up.
These kinds of problems have been happening for a long time. This past year has perhaps been one of the hardest because the flood damage here in Peru has been severe, and a large number of people have been affected. But even through this, our community persists. We try to move forward, finding new ways to lift ourselves up and deal with the problem.
Learn more about how GlobalGiving’s Disaster Recovery Team powers community-led relief efforts worldwide.
Featured Photo: Clean Water for Communities in Vietnam by Taiwan Fund for Children and Families