• Written by Emily Armanetti
    25 February 2014


Aguayuda is working to improve life and health in poor rural communities through clean water, sanitation and education. The organisation is a partner of the Latin America Program of the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA), which was formed in 2002 by US-based non-governmental organisations working in water and sanitation to offer sustainable solutions through advocacy, shared knowledge, and collaborative programming in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Above: (left to right) Benicia Uriana and Karen Cuadrado, both social workers on the Aguayuda team pose in traditional Wayúu mantas as children from the local community look on. La Guajira, Colombia, 1 February 2014. Photo by Harold Lozada

Below: Three members of the Aguayuda team – (left to right) Sor Ayde Quintero, assistant administrator; Sabrina Zimmermann, senior vice president, operations; Simón Zimmer, vice president, international programs. La Guajira, northern Colombia, 1 February 2014. Photo by Harold Lozada


Where and why?
La Guajira is one of the most impoverished parts of Colombia. In the region, 84 percent of people in rural communities do not have access to clean water and 96 percent of people do not have access to sanitation facilities.

Below: (left to right) Franklin Ojeda and Jose Aquilar, both technical coordinators for Aguayuda, pose next to a SkyBox™ Water Filtration Unit. La Guajira, Colombia. 1 February 2014. Photo by Harold Lozada

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What’s happening here? 
As part of of MWA’s Lazos de Agua programme, Aguayuda has been using Akvo RSR to post frequent updates. This provides Aguayuda with a simple, easy-to-use platform to give donors a realistic snapshot of successes, as well as challenges, key lessons and potential solutions.

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Click on an image above to view the related Akvo RSR project update. Photo credits (left to right): Daut Arguelles; Simón Zimmer; Kate Miller.

Using Akvo FLOW, the team conducted a baseline survey of households and water points across 20 communities in La Guajira, plus one control group. By using FLOW, Aguayuda was able to conduct 172 surveys within two months with a very small team. 

MWA Colombia FLOW map

Aguayuda has a core team of seven working with Akvo tools on the ground in Colombia, and they’re all featured here. Karen Cuadrado and Benicia Uriana, social workers who speak Spanish as well as Wayúunaiki, help facilitate communication with the local communities and will also run the water and sanitation education workshops. Franklin Ojeda and Jose Aquilar, both technical coordinators for the project, work to implement and repair water and sanitation solutions and are experts on installing and maintaining windmills. Simón Zimmer and Sabrina Zimmermann manage the Aguayuda team with support from assistant administrator, Sor Ayde Quintero.

The background story
Funded by the FEMSA foundation and Coca Cola, MWA’s Lazos de Agua is a three year programme to improve access to water and sanitation to people in some of the poorest communities in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Colombia. The main objectives are increased access to sustainable safe water, sustainable sanitation coverage, improved source and household level drinking water and improved hand-washing practices. Aguayuda is responsible for implementing the Lazos de Agua programme in Colombia.

Video: The Millennium Water Alliance Latin America Lazos de Agua programme. Credit: FEMSA.

Through the programme, Aguayuda is working with the communities in La Guajira to provide a range of solutions, depending on what each community needs. These include family household filters, community filters, water distribution systems, windmills and soon a solar pump. The team is also rolling out a small pilot, which will eventually scale up, to provide some communities with composting latrines or “loveable loos.” Aguayuda’s work in the region will also benefit three schools – two schools will receive water truck deliveries, while a third school will receive a windmill that provides water.

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Click on an image above to view the related Akvo RSR project update. Photo credits (left) Francesca Moschini; (center, right) Simón Zimmer.

This year Aguayuda will kick off a local water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) education programme, a strategic objective of the Lazos de Agua programme. For this, Aguayuda is developing training materials, including lesson plans for teachers and visual manuals for students and will roll out workshops across the communities. They will also be working to form a WASH committee made up of members of the community before the programme ends in 2015. This will empower communities and the local government to manage their own WASH projects, which is key to sustainability.

The Aguayuda team is based in Riohacha, La Guajira, Colombia. MWA is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its Latin America Program has local partners in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Colombia. Aguayuda is headquartered in Easton, Maryland.

Emily Armanetti is a communications manager at Akvo, based in New York.

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