Building a better world, one community at a time

Esmeraldas WASH Program, Ecuador


Partnering on Water and Sanitation to Improve Health in Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador

Location:Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador


Current Scope:

Water and Sanitation Hygiene (Wash) Development

In-Country Partner: 

Ecuador Tierra Viva

Next Meeting:Check the calendar for our next meeting
Status: Monitoring phase for Rainwater Collection Projects in Ostiones & Paufi; Design phase for Community-wide Water Supply Project 


Program Background


The Purpose and Need


Four small communities have been identified in the Esmeraldas Province, on the Northwest Coast of Ecuador, that do not have regular, reliable access to clean drinking water. This: 1) forces residents to spend time and a significant amount of their cash income buying water from questionable outside sources, and 2) forced some inhabitants to migrate outside of their homes to find other communities where they can provide for themselves and their families.

Proper sanitation and hygiene practices are also lacking in these areas. Even with clean water, without these other two essential pieces these communities are still at high risk for health problems and disease.

The purpose of the program is to enhance the quality of life of the community residents through providing the following:

 1.    A clean, reliable, and affordable water source

 2.    Sustainable sanitation infrastructure

 3.    Knowledge to maintain and sustain the projects over time.

The Solution

WASH Sub-Programs

The Portland Professionals are tackling the issue of clean water and sanitation in the Esmeraldas province one community at a time, by organizing the Esmeraldas WASH Program into four sub-programs to represent each community within the program.

To date, initial Rainwater Collection Systems have been implemented in the communities of Ostiones and Paufi. Once a clean, sustainable drinking water source has been implemented in a village, the focus will turn to proper sanitation and hygiene education.

Similar models of successes in any community will be  applied to the other identified communities in the province.  Part of the goal of the program is to establish a knowledge base within the communities so that they are able to work together and share information to accelerate the process of providing their own or shared resources. 

Portland Professionals are partnering with the Ecuadorian-based NGO, Ecuador Tierra Viva (ETV), and the Portland State University EWB Student Chapter to complete the Ostiones WASH Sub-Program.  ETV is a Quito-based NGO and was started with a focus on providing education to rural areas within Ecuador.  That focus has expanded as they’ve encountered various needs in communities.


Ostiones Wash Program

Ostiones, a small fishing community of approximately 225 people located on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, suffers from high levels of poverty. One of the main barriers of development within the community is the lack of potable water and basic health and hygiene services.  Community members suffer from increased incidences of avoidable water-born health diseases due to lack of clean water access and sanitation education. Due to lack of a health care facility within the community, illnesses require traveling to an expensive clinic. Due to the community’s close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, their sources of fresh drinking water are limited due to high salinity of all of the surrounding water sources. The Portland Professionals and ETV envision a phased project that will include creating the following: a year-round, community-run potable water supply and local water board to manage the water source/supply. This will be followed by a village-wide sanitation infrastructure and a water sanitation education program. The community will be involved in all decision-making and will be trained to operate and maintain the system.


In January 2012, the Portland Professionals traveled to Ostiones to assess the need, collect data, and establish a working relationship with the community and ETV.  A household health survey was conducted along with community focus groups, asking the community to identify their most pressing needs.  The trip objectives were successful and provided the EWB team with information to evaluate different alternatives for the most appropriate project to implement in the community.

 Click here for slideshow of the January 2012 Assessment Trip






Implementing the Solution

Ostiones Water Project


Phase I – School Water Tank Rehabilitation

Phase I of the Ostiones Water Project involves rehabilitation of an existing water tank near the Ostiones Community School. The tank was built approximately 10 years ago, but has never been in use because there is no infrastructure in place to route water to the tank. The Portland Professionals determined that putting this existing tank into use, rather than to continue to allow it to degrade, was the most appropriate first project to complete in Ostiones. Rainwater collected from the school roof will be used to fill the tank, which will be routed to various locations at the school site, including handwashing stations, the school kitchen. Phase I was implemented in October – November 2012.  It included construction of a new roof on the school, installation of new gutters to collect and transfer rainwater to the storage tank, installation of a booster pump, pressure tank, and piping to transfer water to the faucets and handwashing station.  The Boeing Corporation  has provided generous monetary support for completion of Phase I of the Ostiones Water Project.


Click here for slideshow of the Fall 2012 Implementation Trip

Phase II – Community Water Supply

Phase II of the Ostiones Water Project will entail providing a clean, sustainable drinking water source to the entire community of Ostiones. During the implementation trip for Phase I, the Portland Professionals collected additional assessment information in order to evaluate alternatives for a preferred solution for Phase II. It will also involve assessment of the Phase I implementation. Rainfall data, rainwater collection efficiency, and water usage will help with quantifying and planning for a community wide solution. This phase of the project is in the alternatives analysis stage.

Ostiones Sanitation Project

The Portland State University student chapter is taking the lead role in the Ostiones Sanitation Project, with mentorship and oversight provided by the Portland Professionals. The project is in the design stage, with an assessment trip having been completed in December 2012.







We always have a need for new team members. All are welcome, but specific skills that would be useful include:

  • CAD skills
  • Spanish language
  • Rainwater Harvesting
  • Structral Engineering
  • Construction
  • Health Professionals
  • Hydrogeology
  • Water treatment design
  • Sanitation Design
  • Groundwater
  • Pumps and Electrical
  • Drinking water wells
  • Saltwater intrusion experience

Please contact to volunteer or find out more.