In 2004, Living Water International began operating in Mexico as a nonprofit civil association with operations in the northeast of the country mainly in the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz and San Luis Potosi. Work was primarily through missionary partners implementing small water projects and sharing the gospel. Subsequently, operations were expanded to Chiapas, Guerrero and Puebla. In 2010, with the development of a five-year strategic plan, operations shifted to more comprehensive programs that include complex water systems and activities such as hygiene and sanitation education, community mobilization and development, and gospel proclamation. Also, a focus towards the southern regions of Mexico, historically one of the poorest and most marginalized areas in the country, was prioritized. By 2013, Living Water began a three-year program called Lazos de Agua in partnership with the Millennium Water Alliance and the FEMSA Foundation to provide WASH services to 68,000 beneficiaries in the states of Puebla and Oaxaca, promoting a comprehensive water system approach that encourages community engagement, behavior change, and proper sanitation and hygiene practices. Based on the success of this program, the Lazos de Agua II program is currently implemented in partnership with ONE DROP, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the FEMSA Foundation. Since then, Living Water Mexico has accumulated proven experience in the implementation of water access, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects in vulnerable communities in Mexico, implementing an integrated approach that promotes developing community leadership skills, working with the local church, coordinating with local authorities, and forming strategic alliances for long term sustainability.
Our program aims to be recognized as a trustworthy, highly qualified Christian organization that partners with communities and stakeholders to facilitate access to water, hygiene, and sanitation in the neediest rural communities in the center north and southeast regions of Mexico. The impact of the programs in the beneficiary communities will be reflected through sustainable service and transformational change to the lives of the needy. Living Water Mexico is currently working in rural and peri-urban communities within the state of Oaxaca and Guanajuato, with expansion plans in the future. Guanajuato The Lazos de Agua II program in Mexico is an innovative program that combines several local actors to improve WASH services in Guanajuato, Mexico. The program strives to design and implement WASH interventions focused on behavioral change through social art to help increase sustainable access to safe drinking water and affordable sanitation. It also includes water access infrastructure, strengthening of local water boards and water-related State institutions, and micro-credit support for WASH related products and services. The 2017-2021 program is currently implemented in partnership with ONE DROP, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the FEMSA Foundation, expected to serve 45,000 beneficiaries in sixty-five rural communities. Oaxaca Living Water continues to work in Oaxaca, developing a five-year WASH Program Area in Valle Centrales, with an estimated 40,000 beneficiaries. The 2017-2022 program focuses on water access infrastructure, hygiene and sanitation promotion for behavior change, strengthening local water committees, and strategic alliances with municipal and local authorities, water committees, health clinics, schools, academia and local churches to mobilize communities towards obtaining safe water and improving sanitation and hygiene practices.
SAFE WATER ACCESS
Living Water Mexico implements small and larger, piped water systems in order to reach a large number of beneficiaries, as water projects vary according to community context and need. These projects include pipeline installations, elevated storage tanks, cisterns, distribution infrastructure, and spring catchments. Living Water Mexico implements water systems in the most vulnerable municipalities in order to increase coverage for those families that lack safe water. In addition to the water system, there are training workshops for water committees on sustainability issues for the maintenance and operation of the water point with topics such as national water legislation, quality regulations, the water committee’s role, tariff analysis, water quality testing, and chlorination systems. They are also given a water system operation and maintenance manual. Training activities are developed for community care groups (volunteer men and women) in issues related to appropriate handwashing, diarrhea prevention and oral rehydration salts (ORS) preparation, tippy tap demonstration, proper disposal of feces and deworming, improving water sources and water purification, safe and adequate food storage, and acute respiratory infection danger signals.
SANITATION AND HYGIENE
Living Water Mexico implements hygiene promotion in order to reduce diseases due to harmful hygiene and sanitation behaviors. To reach this goal, they utilize the Community Care Group (CCG) approach in smaller communities, as well as partnering with government health programs and schools. The CCG approach empowers community volunteers, both male and female, who meet with a Living Water hygiene promoter to learn hygiene and sanitation lessons and practices, which they then teach to a designated number of their neighbors. Each volunteer is assigned up to 10 homes in the community where they are responsible for teaching the new lesson and practicing each month. At the end of the month, the volunteer returns to the homes with a follow-up visit to encourage and monitor the newly learned practices. Each meeting with the Living Water hygiene promoter encourages the volunteers to actively participate in the new lesson, express concerns, share challenges from previous lessons and build community among their group. In addition, a series of six WASH lessons are provided to all primary and secondary schools in the targeted communities with pre- and post-tests done to assess the students’ progress. In communities with greater than 2,000 people, the hygiene team partners with the local health clinics to strengthen the government health program, PROSPERA.
IN JESUS’ NAME
The involvement of the local churches in our WASH program is crucial in terms of Christian witness. Additionally, churches have the potential of promoting an ethical perspective of development as part of a new community identity. Living Water Mexico attempts to mobilize local churches to carry out integral mission by focusing on proclaiming the gospel and the ethical platform of community development in the following areas: •Servant leadership •Increasing operational effectiveness through local church involvement •Strengthening strategic alliances to increase staff skills as they manage the strategic partnership within the overall framework of our work •The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Bible storytelling and the JESUS film •Promoting discipleship •Training church leaders in Bible storytelling (orality) •Connecting church leaders with the WASH approach by having a better understanding of the living water offered by God. Given that this methodology includes hygiene and sanitation messages for communities of faith, we are also fostering the adoption of lasting healthy behavior in aspects related to primary health care
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Living Water currently works along the Pacific coast of Guatemala. Team members will use an LS300 or a LS400 drill rig with our in-country drillers and help our hygiene team share proper sanitation techniques and Bible stories. You’ll get to experience the rich Guatemalan culture in Antigua, including a coffee plantation tour and Cerro de la Cruz—a beautiful cross set on a hill.