Update on Safe Water Program

The COVID-19 pandemic is still impacting Colombia in a forceful way. As of August 25th, the 7-day average for new infections is still approx. 10,000 per day with a potential decline in the coming days.  The 7-day average for deaths exceeds 300 per day. The various levels of governments have instituted strict quarantine laws, much stricter than here in Canada but intensive care beds are in short supply in most parts. 

CAPD safe water program has been severely impacted by the pandemic.  Our implementing partner Rotary clubs with projects underway have been shutdown for many months now to comply with the quarantine restrictions and to protect their members and contracted personnel who would normally be visiting communities, managing fabrication and transport of filter components, training beneficiaries in the villages, and physically monitoring use and maintenance of filters in each beneficiary home.  The personnel contracted to work in the various aspects mentioned, have been without income for several months now and many are struggling financially.

One Rotary club is about to finish its project by redirecting a small amount of remaining funds to the delivery of masks and handwashing materials to rural families.  The delivery has been a challenge as well.

Mario Correa with filters ready to be shipped to villages.

On a more positive note, during these months of isolation, there has been some progress.  Bob has worked with various entities to finance (via Rotary and CAPD) 3 filter projects which will start up once it is safe for personnel to do so.

Our good friend and filter champion Mario Correa in Ibague has received notice that the seeds he and his Rotary club planted over the last 2 years have taken root and his club will receive funding from a large corporate foundation to benefit 50 families with filters and training. Great news indeed.  We need more friends like him!

Ivan and Rocio in a pre-COVID training session.

Ivan and Rocio of FRPG (Fundacion Red Proyecto Gente) continue to work with CAPD. They have spent their quarantine time by organizing virtual presentations, improving training materials, and following up with entities interested in co-financing filter projects once the pandemic permits them to do so.  Two entities will proceed with co-financed projects involving FRPG and CAPD, once the pandemic permits.

In the past, FRPG has done many on-site training sessions for implementers but presently this has been put on hold.  Now, they are working on delivery of virtual training sessions, although some aspects still need physical sessions.

FRPG has also been working with approximately 10 community coordinators from existing projects to complete “Certificates of Qualification”.  This is a certification program, developed and promoted by CAWST (Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology), which validates the skills and knowledge of the coordinators.  This program is very attractive for coordinators who may be looking for work with other entities involved in household water treatment and who need some tangible evidence for their resume.  

We thank Ivan and Rocio of FRPG for their continued dedication and leadership in training and development, and our Rotary Partners for pursuing opportunities even during this difficult time.


Green Light response to the pandemic

Green Light Education Assistance Program

Over the last years, Green Light has grown from a program that rewards students who achieve a 75% average with uniforms, shoes and school supplies, to a program that encourages community projects. These projects are aimed at developing common community goals that lead to environmental and financial well-being. They also provide student and parent training in subjects such as substance abuse, inter-family relationships, entrepreneurship and saving.  The latter two subjects are prepared by Investing Hope Foundation (IHF) and delivered by Green Light Facilitators and Coordinators.

The school year started mid-January allowing the uniform and school kits to be delivered pre-COVID to 395 students in Santander and 174 students in Guajira. But activity on community projects came to an abrupt halt in March with the onset of lockdown in Colombia.  

The first post-lock down action was to provide food packages to the families involved in the program.

Soon, the Savings and Entrepreneurship programs got up and running using a combination of virtual and face-to-face meetings. Virtual training sessions on budgeting were provided to Gema Savings groups (20 in Santander and a pilot group in Guajira). To date these groups have saved 41.572.700 COP or $14,560 CAD.

The students were likewise engaged in entrepreneurship activities. Pre-COVID they sold candy, cake, and raffles.

Those activities have largely been suspended but virtual training modules continue to be delivered on topics such as self-care during COVID-19 and the value of entrepreneurship. The savings and entrepreneurship groups will continue until the end of October.

As in Canada, virtual education is challenging due to many factors. The Green Light program is currently engaged in surveying students to better understand their situation. Our goal is to find supportive strategies to help our students reach their academic goals despite the pandemic.

A bouquet to Green Light Facilitators and Coordinators who are leading their communities through difficult times by staying in contact with students and families, offering virtual training, and organizing activities within the pandemic guidelines. Thanks to the IHF for continuing to roll out their training modules and for their oversight through audits.  

We are very thankful that Green Light families are infection-free to date.