The Rotary Club of Fort Collins is dedicated to help provide safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene education to communities in developing countries that lack these necessary commodities through our World Community Service Committee by way of Matching Grants from the Rotary Foundation and partnership with other organizations.

Over 750 million people in the world lack access to safe water and 2.5 billion lack access to sanitation.  Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every ten hours. (World Health Organization – 2012)

The Rotary Club of Fort Collins has completed a series of water projects in South and Central America.  The following are some examples:

Our Fort Collins Rotary Club has wonderful new ties helping bring improved sanitation and safe water to needy communities outside Asuncion, Paraguay, South America. The Rotary Foundation just approved a Global Grant for $36,000 which will install handwashing stations, each serving 150 residents in the Banado Norte neighborhoods. Our partners in this project are Habitat for Humanity and the Rotary Club of Luque, Paraguay.  The handwashing stations will be located in high transit spots in the neighborhoods, helping minimize transmission of Covid-19. Mara Johnson and Robin Steele, members of our club’s International Projects and Grants committee, guided this Global Grant to approval.
In 2016 Ntsika Senior Secondary School Head, Madeleine Schoeman, approached the Rotary Club of Grahamstown, South Africa, for help in upgrading the School’s bathrooms. Half the facilities at the school were no longer usable and those still in use, badly needed attention. Interaction between Rotary, school management and the School Governing Body indicated that additional needs were the connecting of the school to the municipal sewerage system (that was not in existence when the school was built), the construction of a scullery, and the storage of water for the frequent periods when the high-lying parts of Makhanda’s Joza township are without municipal water.
We are happy to report that the Rotary Foundation has approved $20,000 in matching funds for the Columbia Water project which our club is a partner.  We raised $6,000 to support this project during the recent Good & Lucky Fundraiser.  456 families living in rural hamlets in Puerto Escondido & San Pelayo will benefit from this project.  Assess to clean water and proper hygiene are essential to good health.  Some 1.8 million people die every year of diarrheal diseases like cholera.  You are making a difference in the world!  Thanks for your support :) 
Pilopata is a community of about 1000 people in the Highlands of Ecuador, south of Quito.  This project built spring capture system for 2 springs, built new storage tank and purification system.  Also conducted health and sanitation workshops.  Global Grant #1981672.  Partners were Rotary Club of Los Chillos Milenio and Bellevue Breakfast, also Boise and Escondido and Districts 5030, 4400, 5440, 5340 and 5400. (2019-20)
This project will supply water to the homes of Los Martínez which is located in the San Jacinto Municipality of Guatemala.
Santa Maria Orphanage in Colon, Mexico; Water Treatment and Reuse Project:

The Fort Collins Downtown Rotary club, along with the Queretaro Mexico Rotary Club and the Carroll College (Montana) Engineers Without Borders, EWB, chapter developed and implemented a water reuse project for the Santa Maria orphanage in Colon Mexico. This orphanage takes in about 300 children off of the streets of Mexico and provides a safe location for children ages 3 to 18. The orphanage had a need to treat their wastewater, picture at left, and in addition, needed several new sources of protein for the orphans’ diets. The orphanage also has an open sewer system and the original wastewater system was not functioning properly, which caused contamination a local stream. This resulted in health issues with the children due to raw wastewater in areas where they played.

The wastewater treatment team provided a unique redesign of the current treatment system, including a water reuse component. The new treatment system is shown in the picture on the right. The water reuse program allows the orphanage to grow tilapia fish in tanks shown below on the left from the effluent of the treatment system. The tilapia will become one of the new sources of protein for the orphanage. As part of this program, the water from the tilapia tanks will then become a source of irrigation water for two crops. The first is for grains and sprouts for the growth of rabbits (rabbits are one of the most efficient animals to convert grains into proteins). The second will be cactus for cattle. Once the spines are removed by burning them off, they are an excellent source of food for cattle but require very little water.

The plan also is to have students who obtain a teaching degree from Carroll College come down for a year of service to help teach science at the orphanage. The plan is also to get the University of Queretaro involved in the tilapia farming, which is an emphasis of the agricultural program at the university and of the State of Queretaro.

The water reuse project is a wonderful biological experience for the students at the orphanage. The team is hoping that they will be able to take this information into the class room for expansion of their scientific knowledge.

The next phase of this project at the orphanage includes the rehabilitation of the original dam, built in 1850, and to start a micro-credit program for the older students to sell the excess tilapia and rabbits. The dam, which has silted in, is shown on the right. Teachers in the Fort Collins School system, through the International Reading Association, are collecting books for the library at the orphanage.

The community of El Carrizal, San Jacinto, Guatemala; Water Distribution System:
The Fort Collins Downtown Rotary club, along with the Chiquimula Guatemala Rotary Club have initiated a project to bring year around clean water to members of the El Carrizal community. Technical support for the project is supplied by "Water For The Americas". Several years ago the government of Guatemala started five water projects in the municipality of San Jacinto, Guatemala. For unknown reasons, none of the projects were completed and the community members have been searching for someone to complete these water delivery systems. The Chiquimula Rotary club decided to help and asked the Rotary Club of Fort Collins to help. The Rotary Club of Cheyenne Wyoming also offered to help.

After two trips to the area by members of the Rotary Clubs and "Water For The Americas" staff, a plan was developed to pump water from springs near the community to the water tank and distribution system built by the government. The picture to the left shows members of the El Carrizal community, Chiquimula Rotary Club members and members of the municipality working on the water catchment facility near the springs.

San Isidro, Colombia Water Treatment Plant:
The community of San Isidro, Colombia obtained their water from storm runoff that was highly contaminated by animal waste.  The runoff pool is pictured at the right.  When that water pool dried up, they trekked to the Sinu River five kilometers away to get water that was also contaminated with animal waste.  The health of community members was greatly affected by the water and greatly influenced infant survival rate.

Rotary Matching Grants 6976 and 19142 were initiated to build a water treatment plant to provide the community with clean water.  The combined projects, costing $120,000, provided a water treatment plant that could serve 3,500 people, enough for San Isidro and some neighboring communities.  The project provided a pump station on the Sinu River, a settling basin for heavy sediments, a rough filter for removal of most of the particulates, a slow sand filter to remove pathogens, a chlorination basin for final disinfection and a storage tank for final detention prior to distribution.

The community of San Isidro built a five kilometer pipeline from the plant to their village as their part of the project.  The electrical lines servicing the pump station were to be provided by the City of Montera, the home of the partnering Rotary Club, but economic problems negated that money, necessitating the second Matching Grant.  The latest data shows significant improvement in the health of the community contributing to greater school attendance and much greater infant survival.

The villagers have committed to paying about $3 (5,000 pesos) per month for the water and maintenance of the system, a significant portion of overall available funds.

A further Matching Grant has been planned to pump excess water from the treatment plant to some neighboring communities.

Dave Stewart made the following statement about the project.  “I believe this is one of the most exciting and interesting projects I have been associated with in my 30 years of professional service.”  Dave is a member of the Rotary Club of Fort Collins and President and CEO of Stewart Environmental Consultants.  He is in the middle of the picture that designates this as a Rotary project.

Clean Water All Year For La Laguneta and El Chile, El Salvador:
The neighboring communities of La Laguneta and El Chile sit on the side of the San Vicente volcano in El Salvador.   During the six month wet season each community has enough water but the water is contaminated and can only be obtained through intense labor.  The picture (right) shows a woman carrying a water jug, cantaro, and her child to supply their daily water needs.  During the six month dry season, there is much less water and it is even more contaminated.  Our club initiated Matching Grants 60461 and 62386, partnering with Rotary clubs in San Salvador and San Miguel, El Salvador, along with the Colorado State University chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and Peace Corps Volunteers in the community, to provide each community with year around clean water that was easily available.

In La Laguneta the grants allowed us to drill two water wells, repair a water storage tank, install a water treatment system on the storage tank and to start implementing grey water treatment processes.  The picture shows drilling a water well behind the church in La Laguneta.  The community now has easier access to clean water throughout the year and can spend time doing more productive activities rather than hauling water.  The nice thing about partnering with the EWB chapter on this project is that they are committed to continue to work with the community, through their elected water board and the Peace Corps volunteers, to improve their lives

In El Chile, which is about a kilometer down hill from La Laguneta, the water source was a spring located several hundred feet below and about a kilometer distant from the community.  The water in this spring was also contaminated.  There was an existing tank at the spring and one behind the community center in the town.  The matching grant money allowed the EWB team to develop a plan to pipe the water from the spring to the storage tank in the town, to install a treatment system at the tank and to pipe the clean water to the center of the town for easier access.  The community volunteered to dig the trench for the pipe and to fill in the trench after the pipe was installed by the EWB students.  The pictures shows the villagers filling in the trench and the new clean water delivery station in the center of the village.

To date the students of the EWB team have made six trips to La Laguneta and El Chile to originally assess the needs, then to carry out the water availability projects and now to continue to help the community improve the daily lives.  For example on the last trip, the students obtained vegatable seeds from a local Fort Collins nursery for the community and helped many families start gardens. 





Ghana Potable Water Project (MG #64089)
This was a joint project between the Rotary Club of Accra East and the Rotary Club of Ft. Collins. The purpose of this project was to provide clean drinking water to four Ghana communities with no access to clean potable water. Prior to this project, the communities depended on seasonal streams or stagnant pools of water that contained bacteria and other contaminants and get flooded during rains.

Wells, fitted with hand operated pumps, were dug between February and April 2008 in four communities (Ayim, Ayim #1, Jamaicaso and Gonten ) on the Akuapim Ridge in the Eastern Region of Ghana. In one of the communities (Jamaicaso) the community constructed a platform with their own resources, purchased a water tank and paid for the cost of installing electricity for the pump.

The communities are all rural with little or no social infrastructure. The residents are mainly subsistence farmers living in simple mud houses. The reliable supply of clean water has made a big difference in the lives of the citizens as children no longer need to miss school to walk long distances each day to obtain drinking water. Women are now able to more easily perform household chores that require water and personal hygiene has improved dramatically with the availability of clean water. At left, District 5440 Ambassadorial Scholar Luci Storelli Castro tries out one of the new pumps.

Of the Four beneficiary communities, one of them is a school for the Hearing Impaired and Speech Disability. Before this collaboration, these communities were drawing water from either stagnant pools, or naturally flowing streams for their consumption. These sources were also used by cattle and other livestocks,and also for washing of clothes, and other human activity, thereby leaving soap residue in the water. Thus the users of these water bodies were exposed to water borne diseases such as cholera, and buruli ulcers.



These exposures, made the communities unfit to perform or engage in any meaningful economic activities, that will sustain them. School children, especially girls, spend so much time fetching water, by crossing major roadways, or walking long distances. This led to some not being able to keep up with school work, leading them to drop out of school. It also meant mothers could not keep up with household hygiene.



Here is an excerpt of two conversations between two separate beneficiaries and a Rotarian from Accra East. These excerpts were provided by the Rotary Club of Accra East (Gilbert Leibel) in May 2009 to the Rotary Club of Fort Collins (Jim Epstein).


Beneficiary 1: My name is Mdm Salome Okobea


Rotarian: What do you think of this project ?


Beneficiary: It’s of great benefit to me and the rest of the community. Before this we use to walk close to one mile, to fetch water. That meant spending three hours or more to fetch enough water for the household for one day. Now the children do not have to cross any road to fetch water


Beneficiary 2 (Using sign language):


Rotarian: Sir what is your name


Student: My name is Hamidu Issifu


Rotarian: How old are you?


Student: I am 15 years old


Rotarian: You look very excited


Student: Yes, its because for the five years I have been here, this is the first time of benefiting from a water project next to my dormitory. We used to walk to a stream 150 metres from here across the street. Thank you very much and may God Bless you.


Rotarian: Its our pleasure to be of service to you, and I hope you will take good care of it.