Suriname project delivers clean water to 10,000
Surinamese children enjoy water from a pump, part of a clean water system installed by Rotarians. Photo courtesy of Rotary Club of Paramaribo
The small South American nation of Suriname may only have three Rotary clubs, but Rotarians there have made a big impact with projects to improve access to clean water.
Illegal mining has caused mercury contamination in many rivers and streams in Suriname, affecting the lives of thousands.
Focusing on the indigenous communities of Kajapatie and Abenaston, the Rotary Club of Paramaribo worked with clubs in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States on a US$73,000 project for a new safe-water system. These funds helped purchase holding tanks, filters, pumps, and other equipment, all powered by solar panels. The club received Matching Grant support from The Rotary Foundation and also partnered with the Georg Fischer Bicentenary Foundation, the Alcoa Foundation, and the Canada Fund for additional financial support.
Paramaribo club members have completed seven water projects in recent years, investing a total of $350,000 to provide clean drinking water for an estimated 10,000 people. Other projects assisted different communities, including those of the Maroon people, who are the descendants of 18th century runaway slaves.
"These projects have been so enormously successful because in the planning stages, the local populations were actively involved in all aspects of the clean water facilities. Nothing was carried out without the village elders' consent and knowledge," says Paramaribo club member Anton Brandon, one of the key organizers for the projects.
The clubs also emphasized community involvement to ensure the projects' sustainability. Villagers helped install underground water mains and were trained on system maintenance, Brandon says.
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