This past March, SurfAid USA joined forces with Rotario Del Los Barriles to support their efforts to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for rural communities along the East Cape of Baja. In the past five years, the project has supported more than 3,800 adults and children. Together, we aim to make an even bigger impact in 2020. 

The project addresses inadequacies in access to clean water by providing a low cost, easy to maintain clean water system. Many of us have travelled through Baja California Sur and enjoyed the beautiful waves that Mexico has to offer, but away from the coast, there are over 2,300 isolated communities that struggle with gaining access to clean water. 

The standard water source in rural communities is a spring or small stream that is shared with goats, cows, and other animals that contaminate the water. The water may look clean but is laden with microscopic parasites, faecal matter, and other damaging bacteria. 

To remove the bacteria and provide access to clean water, the project utilizes the Sawyer Filtration system. Approved by Baja’s Federal and State Department of Health, the systems have the capacity to create 100 gallons of water per day for up to five years, or 1 million gallons while simultaneously eliminating all bacteria, amoebas and parasites. 

In line with SurfAid’s community development model, education, as well as access, is a key contributor to success. In-Country community training teams work with program participants to teach the importance of sanitation, including handwashing. Training is accompanied by educational materials and the team provides post-program support and evaluation to ensure all aspects of the clean water program are maximized by the community. 

The arrival of the global COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight in the importance of clean water and sanitation programs. Prior to the outbreak, 50 filters were distributed throughout the month of March to families living in the rural areas of the East Cape of Baja. The program has temporarily been suspended for the safety of the staff and community, but prior to the closure, the last of the families completed their sanitation training. 60 additional filters and training sessions are scheduled for families residing in the San Felipe region once it is deemed safe to return to the communities. 

SurfAid is thankful for the opportunity to partner with the members of the Rotario Del Los Barriles and the members of our SurfAid tribe who helped make this program possible. With the pandemic reaching every corner of the globe, it is overwhelming to think of all those in need. Thanks to your collective efforts, we are doing as much as we can, one remote community at a time.