Region: South America      Country:  Ecuador    Location: Zapotillo & Puyango Municipalities  

Total Budget: $69,420

Area of Focus: Water and Sanitation

This grant supports five communities in southern Ecuador to access safe and reliable drinking water. Over one thousand people live in these rural communities and rely on locally run water systems to meet their basic needs.  By repairing water systems, protecting and restoring water sources, and providing technical training on water management and conservation, these communities will be able to meet their basic needs for water and sanitation. 

The five communities (Cazaderos, Gramadales, Cabeza de Toro, El Arenal, and Cochas de Ciano) are located in the municipalities of Zapotillo and Puyango in the dry forest of southern Ecuador.  The tropical dry forest is the most ecologically threatened ecosystem in Ecuador. It is also an ecosystem that exposes its inhabitants to weather extremes. Communities depend on the four-month rainy season to provide water throughout the year, including the eight-month dry season. The key to ensuring water availability during the dry season is the conservation of local forests and water catchment areas (sources). 

Despite the critical role that these water catchment areas play, many are being degraded by livestock and agricultural activities which affect water quality, contaminating the water supply with E.coli bacteria and fertilizers. Cattle also diminish the capacity of vegetation to retain precious water from rainy season in the soil to last into the dry season. In addition to the threats at the water source, the communities report that their water systems are also not being well managed and need repairs at both the intake and treatment areas. 

To overcome these challenges, the project focuses on three main components: 

  1. Repair damaged water systems: The repair of water systems will allow water to be treated adequately and prevent leakage so that users can have clean and more abundant drinking water.
  2. Comprehensive training on water system management, sanitation, and hygiene: Local leaders will be trained on the generation, conservation, collection, and treatment of the water as well as optimizing their water systems and distribution. This component will ensure the availability of water in the communities and the longer-term sustainable management of the water systems. The community members will also learn better habits to ensure proper sanitation and hygiene.
  3. Conservation and restoration of water sources: Agreements will be signed with local farmers who own or use land in the catchment area. In collaboration with community leaders, the project will educate them on the importance of conserving the water source and identify incentives for them to identify alternatives to using fertilizers and grazing/ watering cattle in the catchment area.  Examples include, fences, water pumps to pump water for their cattle away from the catchment area and/or provide them seeds and tools to farm in alternate areas and/or using alternative methods. 

Rotary volunteers from District 5340 and 4400, are working together with the organization Nature and Culture International to ensure water for local people in Zapotillo and Puyango. Nature and Culture International is a non-profit organization who has worked over 20 years to conserve Ecuador’s dry forest, in concert with local communities. 

This global grant is sponsored by seven clubs (SBECO, the Rotary Clubs of Escondido Sunrise, Encinitas, San Marcos, Del Mar, Rancho Bernardo, and Rancho Santa Fe) and two districts (D5340 and D4400). It has been approved by The Rotary Foundation in May 2022 and the project is currently in progress. 

Video summarizing the needs and goals of the project

Progress Report on January 3rd, 2023