Improving water supply in Honduras

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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, June 17, 2010 -- The district of Ilama in Santa Barbara, Northern Honduras will receive an improved water supply thanks to Water for People (WFP) and volunteers like Marianna Novellino, Senior Process Engineer for Parkson Corporation.

An international non-profit development organization, WFP has been working in Honduran communities since 1993 to help people obtain safe drinking water and sanitation services and to provide hygiene education.

In April 2010, Ms. Novellino helped WFP gather data from 18 communities using multiple surveys, in just five days. Split into two teams -- led by US-based WFP volunteers and supported by local WFP representatives and municipal government personnel -- they traveled on dirt roads through mountains until reaching the distant villages and completing over 400 surveys. "We were welcomed into the villages with excitement, and big smiles from everyone," said Ms. Novellino. "It was a great feeling to be welcomed with such gratitude, and to let them know this was the first step towards improving their water supply and water-related health issues."

Once the surveys were compiled, the results indicated that roughly 90% of the communities surveyed currently have a water supply system that consists of a piping connection to a water spring, a storage tank of 5,000-10,000 gallons and PVC piping to the houses; all of which is operated by gravity. These systems do not have a disinfection process and can be easily contaminated by runoff and animals along the water path. Fortunately, most of the water springs are uninhabited and have little agricultural contact, so the population is still in relatively good health.

The survey also evaluated the community's sanitation education. "For example, the survey asked if people know that they must wash their hands before eating or after using the latrine," said Ms. Novellino. "Without this knowledge, water-related issues will continue to spread even when these communities have clean water supplies and proper latrine facilities."

In order to improve the sanitation conditions, the local government is installing and improving latrines in most of the communities. During the next phase of efforts from 2011 to 2015, with the help from volunteers like Ms. Novellino, WFP will begin to improve the water supply as well.

"One of the most remarkable things about the Parkson environment is the caring nature of our team members. For over 40 years, Parkson has demonstrated a strong commitment to our community and the world through our participation in causes such as Water for People," said Zain Mahmood, President and CEO of Parkson Corporation. "We are privileged by the support of our employees and Water for People in improving the water supply and water education around the world."

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