In December, we told you about the community of La Zarca and their need for adequate sanitation. Now we’re happy to announce our staff in Mexico have been working with the community to build Healthy Latrines™!

No Safe Toliet

Before Water Missions International worked with the community, makeshift shacks like this served as bathrooms.

We’ve shared about what goes into our community-based projects and disaster response approach, so in honor of the beginning of this newest project we thought we would to break down how we build sustainable sanitation.

Step 1:

After tearing down their old, unsanitary latrines, work can begin on the new project. Before the day construction begins, our staff has already met with the community to plan out the project site. Community members and staff members always construct the new Healthy Latrines™ together.

Healthy Latines

A community member checks to see if the frame for the base of the latrine is level.

Every latrine has two components—the privacy structure and the latrine pit—connected by a pipe. Construction begins with the team laying out the pipe in freshly dug earth. Once the pipe is laid out, they can set up the wooden frame for the latrine base. Next, they dig an eight foot deep pit. This rock-lined pit connects to the latrine base through the pipe.

Step 2:

Once both the latrine base and the latrine pit have been framed with wood, the team fills both frames with concrete.

Building latrines

Community members carefully pour freshly-mixed concrete into the frame for the latrine’s base.

Step 3:

After the concrete dries, it’s time to set up the latrine mold.

Some assembly required

Every latrine gets constructed with an aluminum form that serves as a mold for the concrete privacy structure. The metal pieces screw together to form the structure. As the team sets up the mold, they coat the insides with vegetable oil to make sure the concrete they’ll pour inside doesn’t stick.

Step 4:

Once the form is up and ready to go, the team will mix concrete for the privacy structure. They add fibers to reinforce the structure and make the concrete stronger.


Healthy Latrine

Step 5:

Once the concrete is mixed, our team will pour it into each metal mold.

Building Latrines

Once the concrete gets poured, the team leaves it to set for 24 hours.

Step 6:

The next day, the team gathers together to unscrew the metal form from the latrine.


Once the metal form comes off, the team installs a pour-flush toilet in each privacy structure and a simple wood door. Then, finally, the latrine is ready for use!

New Latrines

Our Mexico staff and community members celebrated the completion of the first latrines for the La Zarca sanitation project.

Our staff in Mexico will continue to work with the community of La Zarca as they continue to construct latrines. They are also looking at other potential sanitation projects in communities in Mexico.

Water Missions International is honored that passionate children who have encouraged friends and family to donate rather than buy traditional birthday presents, but one incredible child is taking it a step further this year. On April 13th, Scotty Parker will celebrate his tenth birthday with a 213 mile bike ride to raise money for Water Missions International.

When he learned about the daily water reality for millions of children around the world, Scotty wanted to help. He decided to spend his tenth birthday riding across the state of South Carolina to raise awareness for Water Missions International. Scotty’s goal is to raise $25,000 to fund a community safe water solution. He’ll start his ride Sunday in Greenville, SC, and will end the ride on Thursday, April 17th, at Water Missions International’s Headquarter in North Charleston, SC. You’re invited to be part of the welcome celebration when Scotty arrives at 11:30 next Thursday!

You can watch an interview with Scotty about his ride here:

“Every 21 seconds a child dies from water-related disease,” Scotty said. “I don’t know about you, but as a kid who has all the water he wants to drink, shower as long as I want and even clean water in the toilet I use, this made me sad and hurt my heart bad.”

You can help Scotty hit his fundraising goal and supply a community in need with safe water access! Go to to read more about how you can get involved with Scotty’s birthday fundraiser.



A New Look On Life

Lauren McCarter —  April 3, 2014 — 1 Comment

“We are so grateful for this,” a community member of Dei, Uganda, smiled as he gestured to one of his community’s new safe water tap stands. These are words Water Missions International hears quite often on days like this, when community members gather together to celebrate their newly operational safe water solution. For Dei, this day represented a long-fought struggle to save lives in their community.

Lake Albert

The community of Dei relies the fishing industry of Lake Albert.

Situated on the shores of Lake Albert, Dei lives off the lake water. Most community members are fishermen by trade, journeying out every day to cast their nets in the water in hopes of hauling in a catch big enough to feed families and maybe put some extra money on the table. But the same water they relied upon to keep them alive was also killing them. Continue Reading…

Water Missions International is honored to be supported by Left Right Left Right Forward March. This initiative unites opposing political parties to bring about change that both sides can agree on. By encouraging unity, inspiring collaboration, and motivating real impact, Left Right Left Right Forward March aims to end political gridlock and help everyone find common ground. Continue Reading…

Pentair focuses its philanthropic efforts toward helping solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, including the need for sustainable, safe water for people around the world. In 2006, The Pentair Foundation and Water Missions International began discussions about how the two organizations could affect positive change for an entire region of people living in Honduras. From that conversation, in 2007, the novel approach “Project Safewater Colon” was born. The project was the first of its kind to provide an entire department, or state, (in this case Colon, Honduras) with safe water access and adequate sanitation. The Pentair Foundation awarded a $4.7 million grant to Water Missions International, to serve as the implementation partner for the project.

Poor Sanitation

Water Missions International staff member Hector shows what one community used for a bathroom before Project Safewater Colon.

The partnership has since resulted in over 16,000 Healthy Latrines™ and safe water access for over 80% of the population. By the end of this year, that number will become 100%. Most importantly, a third party health impact study revealed that 32 months after this community received safe water access, visits to local health clinics for diarrheal diseases have dropped by over 50%. Continue Reading…

To celebrate World Water Day on March 22nd, Water Missions International held its 8th annual Charleston Walk for Water. Thousands came out to take part in a symbolic walk to raise awareness for the millions of women and children who walk miles every day to get a small container of water, often contaminated and filled with parasites, which must serve their families’ daily needs.

Walking for water

Thank you to everyone who came out to walk at this year’s Charleston Walk for Water!

One group of walkers gathered together to support friends witnessing firsthand the reality of the global crisis in Uganda. Water Missions International engineer Doug Lawson moved in fall 2013 with his wife Jennifer and their children to Jinja, Uganda to become members of our in-country program staff. Friends and supporters back in Charleston formed a team called LawsonTribe4 to fundraise and walk in support of the Lawson family. Continue Reading…

WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) promotion is a term we throw around a lot here at Water Missions International. But what does it really mean? WASH promotion is a planned, systematic attempt to enable people to take action to prevent water and sanitation related diseases. At its most basic, WASH promotion involves educating people on the realities of how germs are spread through contaminated water and improper hygiene.

While concepts like proper handwashing techniques are common in many societies, this is a taught behavior, something that mothers teach their children. Without a foundation for this knowledge, it cannot be learned and passed on. As a key component of Water Missions International’s community development projects, WASH promotion is vital to ensuring a project’s sustainability.

Philipines WASH Promotion

Water Missions International staff don’t just focus on WASH promotion in community based projects; we make sure to incorporate this vital component into our disaster relief efforts as well. In the aftermath of disaster, the risk of disease rises sharply. While the act of handwashing may seem like a small thing, this practice has the ability to dramatically reduce diarrhea and respiratory infections, as well as potentially impacting skin and eye infections.

After installing one of our Living Water™ Treatment Systems to purify contaminated water sources in the aftermath of disaster, our staff conduct WASH promotion in communities. At schools and other meeting areas, our staff hold seminars which cover everything from proper handwashing techniques to the importance of washing fruits and vegetables intended for consumption. They distribute informational pamphlets written in the local language to communities to foster understanding. During our recent disaster response efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, our staff conducted WASH promotion seminars throughout the Philippines, educating hundreds on how they could easily prevent the spread of illness.

Disaster Response

A Water Missions International staff member leads a WASH promotion seminar at a Filipino school.

It’s not enough simply to lecture though. In order to successfully change lives, WASH promotion has to lead to action. In the Philippines, Water Missions International staff asked for a bigger act than washing hands. Our staff taught local government officials on Cebu island how to tell if water is actually safe. They distributed water testing kits and led classes on how to use them, helping the local government grow in its capacity to act when the next disaster strikes. Our staff also trained others on how to conduct WASH promotion, ensuring that when our staff transitions projects to the Filipino people, they will be equipped with the ability to make sure safe water continues to flow.

Why We Walk

Lauren McCarter —  March 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

“Good afternoon. My name is Reina, and I want to thank God and you for giving our community this safe water project. It has helped us keep good health. Thank you very much!”

These words may seem like a simple thank you, but they represent months of planning, long hours of labor, and donations from supporters like you. For this community in Honduras, getting safe water wasn’t as simple as turning a tap. But now they can enjoy water held to that same standards as what you drink today.

Reina's Community

Now children play around Reina’s community’s safe water system, free from worry of waterborne illness.

Continue Reading…

Raising awareness about the global water crisis can be as simple as holding a bucket. This year’s Charleston Walk For Water committee dares you to inspire others through their new initiative, Thirsty Thursday. Show solidarity with millions around the world and carry a bucket everywhere you go.

Miss your chance to get involved today? That’s ok! You can do this any day of the week, or join us next Thursday. Get creative and then be sure to share your story with us on Facebook and Twitter!

For more information, visit to learn more about the global water crisis, decorating your bucket, and how you can tell the stories of millions in need of safe water.


Disaster Response

A few weeks ago, we told you how Water Missions International, in partnership with Samaritan’s Purse, was responding to the desperate need for safe water in South Sudan’s refugee camps. One of our staff members from Water Missions International Uganda traveled north with a team from Samaritan’s Purse and two Living Water™ Treatment Systems. Both systems are now fully operational and providing much needed safe water.

Since fighting began in December, more than 700,000 people have fled their homes in South Sudan. While many have fled to refugee camps within the country, more than 100,000 people (roughly the size of Charleston, SC) have sought refuge in neighboring countries, including Uganda. Continue Reading…