--Welcome to the El Salvador Project travel blog. The travel team will be working to ensure that this is updated as time permits during the implementation of the winter 2009 trip. For those of you that do not know much about the project, I would like to give you a brief background and share with you what we plan on accomplishing during this visit.
--In fall 2005, members of the West Bend Rotary Club approached EWB-UW with a problem that the communities of La Granja and Nuevo Ferrocarril in El Salvador are facing. These communities are facing a severe health problem caused by the lack of a wastewater collection system and minimal education of the effects that wastewater and the pathogens it contains have on their health. Year round, stagnant pools of wastewater fill the streets, a problem which is severely exacerbated during the wet season. People walk barefoot through this water, while animals drink and defecate in this water.
--According to the World Health Organization's 2008 Millenium Development Goals report, about 1.1 billion people have no access to improved drinking water and about 2.5 billion people live without improved sanitation. This means that roughly 1.4 billion people have fresh water that goes untreated. This is a global concern, and Engineers Without Borders is doing its part to assist these communities so that they do not become another statistic, like the 2.2 million people that die each year from diarrhea caused by untreated wastewater, removing them from the 38% of people in El Salvador living without improved sanitation facilities.
--During the winter 2008 implementation trip, EWB-UW began the excavation of soil and interment of 203 mm diameter schedule 30 PVC. About 500 Meters were successfully buried. The technical work was complimented with educational workshops held at the local school and at "Fe y Esperanza", the church for the two communities. These workshops introduced children to the transfer of germs, proper sanitation practices, and the importance of listening to their parents.
--This break, the El Salvador Project plans on finishing the 700 meters needed to cross the Pan-American Highway and connect up the community of La Granja. Throughout the course of this semester, the education team has been working on materials and workshops to be shared with the communities. Half-sheets were printed and are being laminated, which contain information on how to properly use and maintain the wastewater collection system on one side, and methods to prevent illness on the other. Along with the half-sheets, a series of coloring books have been worked on to help explain the operation of the wastewater treatment plant, how children can improve their health, and how to be safe around the construction site. Workshops will be held on construction safety, the water cycle, how the treatment plant works, and on general health practices and germ transfer.
--Through working closely with the communities and having local leaders appointed to manage community work, we hope to ensure that the collection system is sustainable and more importantly, to ensure that the users are safe today, tomorrow, and well into the future. Thank you for your interest, reading this introduction, and your continuing support of the efforts that EWB-UW is providing to communities all across the world. I look forward to keeping you posted on the work that is being accomplished.
Daniel Merrick Burkhardt