El Balsamar, El Salvador

About the Project

EWB Members pose with the students in El Balsamar after discussing the benefits of proper sanitation, May 2014.

EWB Members pose with the students in El Balsamaer after discussing the benefits of proper sanitation, May 2014.

The community of El Balsamar currently suffers from health-related issues that may be attributed to improper sanitation. While some families in the community have the privilege of having composting latrines, most either have pit latrines or no latrines at all. Due to the fact that pit latrines lack a drying agent, families become more susceptible to diseases carried by flies, a problem that is further increased during the region’s wet season; as the water level rises due to flooding, the contents of the latrines also rise. Not only does this lead to a greater susceptibility to diseases, but the latrines also become unusable. The contamination of water is another main issue caused by the pit latrines or the lack of latrines; fecal matter seeps into the ground and pollutes the local natural springs. These springs are a source of drinking, cooking, and bathing water for the locals, meaning that water-borne illness also becomes a serious health issue in the community.

The goal of this project is to build 30-33 composting latrines in the area for families that live near a water source or that have children under the age of five. Composting latrines have a compartment to catch the waste, eliminating the contact with the ground and contamination of ground water. These latrines also continue to be useable during the wet season, and the waste may be removed and used as fertilizer. The use of this fertilizer would greatly benefit the community, as El Balsamar’s main source of income is agriculture. While interacting with the community, our group will also focus on educating people of all ages on the importance of improved sanitation and the benefits that composting latrines bring to the community.

EWB Members pose with local residents in front of a a completed latrine, May 2014.

EWB Members pose with local residents in front of a a completed latrine, May 2014.