Florida Rotarians buy water tanks for village in Guyana
A water tank project sponsored by Rotary clubs in Daytona Beach, Florida, is providing clean drinking water to the village of Kabakaburi, Guyana. Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Stabroek-Georgetown, Guyana.
The Rotary Club of Daytona Beach West, Florida, USA, is helping a remote village in Guyana gain access to clean drinking water by purchasing 150 rainwater collection tanks for the people of Kabakaburi.
The tanks offer an alternative to the contaminated water of the nearby Pomeroon River, which can cause conditions such as typhoid and diarrhea.
To carry out the two-year, US$20,000 effort, the club has partnered with the Rotary clubs of Daytona Beach; Oceanside, Daytona Beach; and Stabroek-Georgetown, Guyana. A Matching Grant from The Rotary Foundation has helped provide funding.
The project began after Dr. Andrea Thorpe, of the Daytona Beach West club, traveled to Guyana on a Volunteer Service Grant. She was joined by a team that included Past District Governor Ron Denham, chair of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, and a representative from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We got into specifics, speaking to villagers, understanding their sanitation and what solutions they wanted," Thorpe recalled. "The villagers came up with the solution: They have six months of rainy season, so the best thing would be to get water tanks."
She returned to her club with a plan to purchase tanks for the village. The response was enthusiastic.
"The fact that we can possibly eradicate a disease like typhoid [in Kabakaburi] by supplying clean drinking water is fantastic. The whole district became excited," said Thorpe.
Villagers "own" the program by paying a nominal $5 for the tanks and by building wooden stands and gutters to collect the rainwater. They’ve already installed 100 tanks and will put in the remaining 50 by the end of 2008, Thorpe said.
The Daytona Beach West club also plans to support the village's efforts to address sanitation concerns by helping residents build six toilets at a local school. Because of improper sanitation, sewage runoff enters the river during the rainy season and contributes to water contamination issues.
Thorpe said the club is looking to replicate the water and sanitation project in two nearby villages with high diarrhea-related mortality rates.
"Going to the villages themselves and getting their input is extremely important. Maintaining the project is key," she explained. "By doing this we are also spreading knowledge of Rotary."
Thorpe returned to Kabakaburi in June. The villagers thanked Rotarians for their hard work during a ceremony marked by speeches, dancing, and handmade tokens of appreciation.