Easton- Based Non-Profit Aguayuda Makes 8th Trip to Columbia to Tackle Water Crisis

Co-founders Simón Zimmer and Sabrina Zimmermann of Aguayuda, an Easton-based nonprofit organization with an international reach, recently completed their eighth trip to Colombia in five years to tackle the country’s water crisis.  Prior to this trip, Aguayuda installed clean-water solutions in nine poor communities in the La Guajira Department of Colombia. On their most recent trip, Zimmer and Zimmermann traveled to these communities to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the installed clean water solutions. In addition, Zimmer and Zimmermann, together with its Colombia-based Aguayuda-Team, implemented three new projects and evaluated seven communities for future projects.

"We are happy to report that all our projects are running smoothly. The communities are happier and healthier thanks to the clean-water solutions we have put in place," said Zimmermann.

The first new project implemented on the 2012 trip was the installation of a water storage tank for a rural school that suffered from the lack of water and classrooms. In collaboration with a local nonprofit organization called the "Cerrejón Foundation for Indigenous Development in La Guajira," Aguayuda provided the school of Orrokot with a water storage tank for the 210 students and 13 teachers, as well as with three new classrooms. Aguayuda also supplied household water solutions such as ceramic water filters and LifeStraws, donated by the Ashburn, Va.-based Pay It Forward Project to residents in an indigenous reservation called Parraptu. With these household water solutions residents can purify the contaminated pond water, their only water source.

In addition, Aguayuda together with the community members of Ramonero, built a constructed wetland that is purifying the community's waste-water while providing water for agriculture. The constructed wetland is an addition to the windmill and laundry-washing station Aguayuda installed previously in Ramonero.

"During this trip, we have set the foundation to assure that the 12 communities we are helping through clean water will continue to be sustainable for many years by having three local Colombian members join our Aguayuda team," said Zimmermann. The three new members will monitor and support Aguayuda's current projects; evaluate new communities; and create alliances with local foundations, companies, and government entities. These new members provide a permanent base in La Guajira, where the majority of Aguayuda's projects are located.

Zimmer and Zimmermann also welcomed three Colombian interns in 2012. The interns' responsibilities include conducting community surveys; testing and evaluating various household water solutions; and completing the water storage tank project in Orrokot as well as the constructed wetland project in Ramonero. "Their energy, passion and high quality results are a huge help for Aguayuda," said Zimmer.

"2012 will be and has already been a very exciting year for Aguayuda. We have many plans including the installation of solar pumps, windmills and composting latrines to provide clean water and appropriate sanitation to three impoverished indigenous communities. We have prepared the technical solution, but still need funding support from individual donors, companies and foundations to make these projects become reality," summarized Zimmermann.

To learn more about Aguayuda and get involved, please visit www.aguayuda.org.


Photo #1: For Maria, a resident of Columbia, every drop of water is precious.

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