A team from WaterStep, a non-profit organization that works to save lives with safe water, was wrapping up a week of projects spanning thirteen communities in Ecuador, when the deadly landslide devastated Mocoa, Colombia, a town of 60,000 near the Ecuadorian border. Hundreds have died and thousands are living in shelters after heavy rains caused mud, rocks and water to engulf the town, sweeping away entire neighborhoods. Some areas remain without safe water and electricity, and government assistance is only a short-term solution to the problem, especially as landslides continue to destroy neighboring communities.
“When we heard about the devastation so close to us, and we had our safe water equipment in hand, so we knew we had to try and help,” says Mark Hogg, Founder and CEO of WaterStep. “Our partners in Ecuador began establishing connections and networks with Colombian officials, who ultimately invited us to help.”
After traveling for more than 15 hours on treacherous roads to reach Mocao, the team arrived and saw the chaos. They quickly worked with their partners in Ecuador, and new partners in Colombia, to gather a group of 60 medical workers, community leaders and military representatives and trained them on how to install and use the organization’s simple, but very effective, safe water tools. The team installed WaterStep’s M-100 Water Chlorinators and Bleach Makers in several refugee camps, allowing approximately 1,000 families to have access to safe water and medical-grade bleach.
“When a disastrous flood like this hits a community, contaminated water invades every facet of the culture,” says Hogg. “There’s nothing safe to drink and no disinfectant to clean anything. Our tools and training not only fill gaps in the initial days of chaos, but, have also been proven as long-term solutions for safe water and health long after the tragedy has passed.”
To support Colombian landslide survivors, or WaterStep’s ongoing safe water and health education projects around the world, please visit www.waterstep.org or call (502) 568-6342.About WaterStep WaterStep, headquartered in Louisville, KY, is a 501(c)(3)nonprofit organization that believes everyone should have access to safe water and that no one should suffer from waterborne illnesses. WaterStep implements water projects and equips people with tools and training in water purification, disaster relief, health education, and well repair. Since its founding in 1995, WaterStep has brought safe water to people in over 40 countries. To learn more, call (502) 568-6342 or visit waterstep.org.