June 25, 2014
Case Study #2: Community-Based Rural Potable Water System Project
San Gabriel is a rural community of 5,000 residents located in one of the most sweltering and driest regions of Honduras. The community lacks an adequate and equitable potable water system as 60% of households use their home's well water, 20% utilize their neighbor's well, 15% have piped water in their home, and 5% use their neighbor's piped water (Andrade and Zoerhoff, 2011). The absence of a sufficient potable water system presents a litany of negative public health implications. First, water security is extremely volatile. There is too much dependence on he precarious supply of well water. Perhaps more disconcerting is the lack of access to a potable water system, which makes populations more vulnerable to diarrheal disease, which is symptomatic of gastrointestinal infections. Various bacterial, viral, and parasitic organisms that are transmitted through the fecal-oral pathway cause gastrointestinal infections.
These microorganisms spread through contaminated food and drinking water or from person to person as a result of poor hygiene. More than 80% of the cases of diarrhea worldwide are birthed from fecal-oral contamination. Children are disproportionately susceptible. Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death for children under five years of age worldwide (WHO, 2009). San Gabriel has had to contend with the aforementioned challenges. Additionally, San Gabriel receives 59 to 67 inches of precipitation annually with the vast majority falling during the wet season. This foments elevated contamination threats during the rainy season, while compromising the supply of water security the dry season. Many San Gabriel children have been forced to take extended absences from school and workers have had to miss an exorbitant number of days due to diarrheal disease. Far too many children of San Gabriel have met an...