El Zapote -- "Back to the Basics"

by High Plains Professional Chapter
Current latrines pose a health risk to community
Current latrines pose a health risk to community


An initial assessment trip was completed in February to scope the project and identify any potential challenges of this project.  The warm welcome and reception from the El Zapote community proved their dedication to this project and working with EWB.


During the trip, EWB High Plains Professional Chapter (HPP) volunteers, in collaboration with Peace Corps volunteers, toured the various areas and held several town meetings with the local community members. Not only did this allow the people of El Zapote to hear about the proposed project for new latrines, but it also provided them an avenue to voice concerns, ask questions, and explain other issues effecting their daily health and livelihood. One concern was the flooding that occurs during the rainy season.  Our EWB team learned that several latrines built below these water levels often flood during this time of year, making an already unsanitary area even more threatening to the community.  For a region that primarily flourishes and survives on agriculture and livestock finds itself crippled when this type of flooding occurs.  

The approximate cost estimated for developing new latrines is $400 per latrine.

Child at town hall meeting
Child at town hall meeting


Map of El Zapote
Map of El Zapote

EWB and El Zapote Community hope basic infrastructure and sanitation solutions spark growth

The small rural, coastal community of Canton El Zapote in El Salvador has nearly forty families without the most basic sanitation equipment -- toilets. Access to latrines goes far beyond the luxury of privacy and comfort, and poses a serious health risk to the people of this community and the surrounding water systems.  

The Peace Corp conducted a preliminary diagnostic of this 11 kilometer region and its 500 families, concluding that the most immediate need was to provide latrines for those who do have them, eliminating the waste that currently flows freely through the community and nearby water resources. The second goal of this project will be to assist the community with their virtually non-existent infrastructure that is currently without clean water and electricty, and is crumbling under the erosion of the coastline and weather patterns.  

Perhaps one of the most important things to sustain in this community is the motivation and spirit of the people to be a propserous and healthy city. El Zapote continues to have a good agricultural community that grows corn, sesame seeds, peanuts, and watermelon; there is a school that educates kindergarten through high school, a health clinic with two doctors, a postman, and even a town council. The program this community established with EWB signifies their resiliant desire for support.  Not only do we have the opportunity to help a community be sustainable and its people healthy, but also an opportunity to educate the community leaders about their environment and how to keep their children and families safe and healthy upon completion of the project.

The program is sustainable because the community has formed the mission of this program and will continue to have a voice and presence in the entire program.



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Organization Information

High Plains Professional Chapter

Location: Denver, CO - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.ewbhighplains.com
High Plains Professional Chapter
Project Leader:
Allen Erickson
Denver, CO United States

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