News  >  Blog

Hygiene Promotion Volunteers Help Make Clean Water Count in Communities

Published 11/28/2023 by Global Communities

Honduras_HASS project_Margarita and Juan Jose 1

Until a few months ago, the community of El Bijao did not have access to clean and safe drinking water. Residents of the western Honduras village had to travel long distances to obtain the basic necessity, a journey which was exhausting and dangerous.

Now, more than 80 families – around 380 individuals – are benefiting from a potable water system implemented by Global Communities. The critical infrastructure was built with support from the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance as part of the Strengthening the Agricultural System of Honduras (HASS) project.

Although access to safe drinking water is important, raising awareness about good hygiene practices is fundamental to the health and well-being of communities. Recognizing this, Global Communities has trained 300 people to serve as hygiene promotion volunteers through HASS.

Following her mother’s example of service to others, Margarita Tejada (42) became a hygiene promoter to make a positive impact in her community. Although she has been doing similar volunteer work for more than two decades, she convinced her husband, Juan José Pérez (46), to join the HASS team of volunteers as well – a first for the security guard.

Margarita Tejada and her husband Juan José Pérez serve as hygiene promotion volunteers with the USAID/BHA-funded HASS project.

In addition to teaching neighbors about effective handwashing and other healthy hygiene and sanitation practices, Margarita and Juan José also explain the importance of keeping the community’s new water supply clean and safe. Before the water system was installed, it was challenging to promote these behaviors because drinking water was not readily available. Now, more and more residents of El Bijao are becoming actively involved in community cleaning actions to keep the system in good working order.

Alejandra Fuentes (28) has two children, ages one and six, and expressed admiration for the volunteer work that Margarita, her husband and other hygiene promoters have been doing for the community, noting “they do it from the heart.” She also shared what she has personally learned because of the HASS team’s efforts and how the project has impacted El Bijao as a whole.

“I used to not know about the importance of handwashing so frequently. For example, I didn’t know that we should always wash before breastfeeding a baby, which matters in my case,” Alejandra said. “You can also see that the cases of diarrhea have gone down, or decreased, because children in the community used to get sick very often and now they don’t.”

With support from USAID/BHA, Global Communities has rehabilitated 21 water systems in the departments of Copán, Ocotepeque, La Paz, Valle, Choluteca and El Paraíso, benefiting a total of 11,658 people. In addition, thanks to the efforts of hygiene promotion volunteers such as Margarita and Juan José, more than 17,000 people have received information and education on good hygiene practices and the proper use of water to prevent waterborne diseases.

By gradually raising awareness among residents like Alejandra, Margarita and Juan José have become role models in El Bijao. Their work together shows how the dedication and passion of a few can lead to meaningful improvements in the lives of many.

This success story is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Global Communities and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.