Improved washroom facilities and safe, clean drinking water in Colombia

Funding required: $76,550

This project will help: 213 children

Estimated completion date: February 2025

Country: Colombia

Executive summary

Access to safe water and sanitation facilities impacts all areas of a child’s health, well-being and overall development. Sadly, many of the children and youth Compassion’s church partners serve in the town of San Jacinto, Colombia, do not have access to clean water or adequate sanitation facilities such as washrooms. San Jacinto lacks sanitary infrastructure and does not have a sewage system or a connection to the water supply. To provide drinking water for their families, caregivers collect rainwater or fetch unsafe water from wells and streams. Many caregivers do not have the resources or education needed to properly treat the water before use.

Accessing washroom facilities is also a challenge in San Jacinto. Some families have septic tank latrines at home while others have no choice but to practise open defecation. Children and adults do not have access to hand washing sinks at home or in the community, making it nearly impossible to practise regular, personal hygiene. During the dry season, families store water in open containers that attract mosquitos, leaving children and caregivers vulnerable to yellow fever, dengue fever and leishmaniasis. Due to inadequate access to safe drinking water and clean washroom facilities, children growing up in San Jacinto are at high risk of contracting many waterborne illnesses. Cases of dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid, cholera, diarrhea and malnutrition have all been recorded in the community.

Compassion’s church partner in San Jacinto is working hard to serve 213 registered children and youth. To ensure children have enough water to drink and to use for cooking and cleaning on program days, staff have been spending the equivalent of nearly US$40 per week to purchase water. This has put a strain on their budget, which could be put towards other needs and program activities. Although the church currently has two latrines, they are outdated, in poor condition and are not flushable due to the lack of water and sanitation system. Boys and girls also use the same washrooms, which creates a difficult and uncomfortable situation for menstruating girls.

With your support, the CO0548 Compassion centre in San Jacinto will build improved washroom facilities on site. In addition, your gift will provide children with safe, clean water through the installation of a drinking water system and water storage tanks. Registered children and their families will also attend water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) training covering topics such as the proper use of toilets, the importance of hand washing and disease prevention.



Although Colombia is rich in water resources, much of it is unsafe; one third of the urban population is impacted by water stress—a lack of access to safe, clean drinking water. In some regions, water from lakes and streams are so polluted that even contact with the water is considered a hazard. The residents of San Jacinto have been waiting many years for access to water in their community. The hot, dry summer season presents a further challenge as some of the natural water collection points dry up. Families are often forced to wake up early every day in search of tank cars from other municipalities that supply water on a first-come, first-served basis.

Lack of water and poor sanitation infrastructure has had a significant impact on children growing up in San Jacinto. In the summer of 2023, our church partners conducted a health survey of all 213 registered children. The survey found that 60 per cent of children had illnesses or conditions associated with unsafe water consumption such as parasitic infections, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, respiratory conditions and skin infections. They also noticed an increase in malnutrition and stunting—conditions associated with inadequate access to clean water and poor hygiene.

The need

Without access to clean drinking water and improved sanitation facilities, children growing up in San Jacinto face an uncertain future. Repeat waterborne illnesses will threaten their development, well-being and even their lives.

But with your support, two new washroom facilities will be built at the Compassion centre in San Jacinto. These washrooms will be separated by gender, so both boys and girls will have a safe and private washroom to use on program days. Each washroom will contain three toilets and hand washing sinks so children can wash their hands after use and before eating.

Your generous gift will also provide children and staff with access to safe, clean water that can be used for drinking, food preparation and cleaning. Through the installation of a water storage and distribution system, including one underground talk with 25,000 cubic-metre–capacity, two 2,000-litre–capacity above-ground water storage tanks and piping to the new sanitation facilities and kitchen, staff will no longer need to purchase water and can provide all participants with enough drinking water each program day. Children and caregivers will also attend WaSH training sessions. They will learn about important topics related to the proper use and maintenance of washrooms, using water wisely as well as good personal hygiene practices, promoting improved health and well-being among children and their families.

What your gift will do

Your gift will provide the CO0548 Compassion centre with two new washroom facilities (one for girls and one for boys), improved access to clean water through the installation of a drinking water system and storage tanks and hygiene education:

  • Sanitation facilities
    • Structure and masonry
    • Hydro sanitation and electrical installation
    • Finishes
    • Engineer fees
  • Construction of the water reservoir
    • Supply and construction of base
    • 50 cubic-metre semi-waterproofed concrete tank
    • Register cover for tank
    • Engineer fees
  • Wastewater treatment system installation
    • Horizontal septic well
  • Water distribution network
    • Water network tanks and base
  • Water purification system of 1,400 litres/hour flow
    • 9 x 48 filters with back-washable valves
    • Sand, activated carbon, polypropylene
    • UV lamp
    • Chlorinator
    • Reverse osmosis system
    • Construction of the control and machine room
    • Electrical network installation
  • Training
    • Fees for workshop leader (3 workshops)
    • Fees for water committee
    • Parents’ workshops
    • Children’s workshops
    • Administration


  • Local contribution: US$4,201.73
  • Handling of funds: Compassion International Colombia will work with centre leaders to ensure this project stays within budget.
  • Monitoring and follow-up: The church partner will work with a civil engineer, who will design the sanitation and water facilities to the required technical standards so the centre has clean, healthy and functional spaces. Compassion centre leaders will appoint community members who will provide long-term maintenance of the washroom facilities and water system. Centre staff will also continue to provide WaSH training for children and families.

No less than 80 per cent of your donation will be used for program activities and a maximum of 20 per cent for fundraising and administration. If we exceed our funding goal for the initiative shown, the remaining funds will be used to fund other programs where the need is greatest.