In the 1960’s, the government of Honduras started on a campaign to improve the country’s water systems. They initiated SANAA, the National Water and Sewer Authority, who focused their efforts on improving water access to rural communities. The water system that our chapter of Engineers Without Borders worked with was built in the mid-1980’s. Over the past few decades, the communities that were originally served by this system grew beyond what the system was originally designed to handle. With few upgrades to the system, the communities were left with inadequate or inequitable supplies of water. Some neighborhoods received as much water as they want at over 60 psi of pressure while others were lucky to turn their taps on and get anything but air.
There are nine communities that are served by the current water system. The main source of income for many families is agriculture. Within these communities, an estimated 3500 residents are distributed among 540 families. The native language of the people in the area is Spanish. The communities of El Espino, El Desmonte, El Pozo, El Culan, Las Pilas, El Bufalo, El Pueblito, Las Tunas, and La Vega each have their own water system administration body, called the Junta de Agua or Water Board. More recently, a main water board was created in order to oversee the system as a whole.
In 2008, Engineers Without Borders – Minnesota Professionals Chapter was approached by Global Community Development (GCD), a non-governmental organization that works in the area. They completed two week-long assessment trips in June of 2009 and February of 2010. In April of 2010, the Engineers Without Borders University of Minnesota Student Chapter collaborated with the professional chapter on the Honduras Project.