How USAID helped communities secure the most important resource: water
Imagine you do not have direct access to water everyday and have to wait for weeks for it to get delivered to your home. Imagine you have to order water trucks to bring water to your house, and “purchase it” so you can clean, cook or drink. This is what residents from Arroyo Blanco al Medio had to experience every day.
Aribel Morón and her husband Daniel live in the community of Arroyo Blanco al Medio, in Santiago Rodriguez, near the Dominican Republic and Haiti border. This is a striving community of hardworking dairy farmers. One of the main limitations for the community’s development is water scarcity.
Arroyo Blanco’s water delivery system was never entirely operative nor reliable, leaving households with no current water for weeks. They have to rely on trucks that would go to the nearest river, haul some water and sell it to community dwellers. “Before this project, we could have weeks without water. We had to buy dirty water from small trucks”, says Aribel.
According to the latest Dominican Population and Housing Census, done in 2010, only 56 percent of households receive running water from the aqueduct inside their home in the Santiago Rodríguez province.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, having no water reduces the adoption of sanitation and hygiene practices to prevent the disease, and other infections and health threats. A simple act like hand-washing with soap becomes a problem that has to be addressed.
In order to help the Arroyo Blanco community, USAID and two private partners, Industrias San Miguel (ISM) and Fundación Popular, rehabilitated the most critical areas of Arroyo Blanco’s water delivery system through the Locally-led Water Security Program. This program works to strengthen local development and addresses water security challenges in target watersheds within the Dominican Republic. This initiative also works to reduce water contamination and soil degradation, empower communities to lead watershed management, increase sustainable access to safe drinking water, and of sanitation. The USAID program is helping 692 households (2,300 people) increase their access to water by improving Arroyo Blanco and nearby communities’ water delivery system.
Aribel explains that her husband participated in meetings with people from the project, but she did not expect much from those meetings. When she realized that work was being done, she was hopeful. Now they are receiving water in a more regular way.
This included installing a new water pumping and electrical system, repairing pipelines, rehabilitating a water filtering plant, and building a wall to protect water intake areas from flooding. These initiatives were implemented by Fundación REDDOM in collaboration with National Institute for Drinking Water and Sewage (INAPA) and Arroyo Blanco Development Committee (community’s organization).
As Aribel states: “Now we have water even at night. This is quality of life”.