Peru Neighbors Serve Each Other During El Niño Flooding

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In March 2017, storms created by the effects of El Niño dumped 43 inches of rain on Peru. The coastal department of Piura, home to several Water Mission community projects, was the second most impacted area with more than 400,000 homes destroyed by flooding. ​ Water Mission’s safe water project in Loma Negra, a community in Piura, was commissioned in September 2016 and provides nearly 2,600 people with access to safe water. Like all Water Mission community development projects, the people in Loma Negra had established a Safe Water Committee (SWC) to oversee the system’s operation and finances, and support ongoing hygiene education for the community. After the flooding started, Loma Negra’s SWC had their hands full trying to meet the needs in their community. Crops, animals, supplies, and houses were washed away by floods resulting from the record-breaking rainfall. The residents literally lost everything, and the flooding isolated the community with access in and out of town limited to foot traffic. To make matters worse, residents had to pay $5 for a single load of supplies to be carried into town by a donkey, a price that was more than 10 times the normal rate. Despite the fact that they were busy providing for their own community, the Loma Negra SWC still made time to care for their neighbors. Victims from the surrounding communities of Viduque, Pedegral Chico, and Simbila were relocated to dry land in the farming area of Catacaos near Loma Negra. The displaced people urgently needed access to safe water. Loma Negra’s SWC met with local authorities to discuss ways they could help provide water to these families seeking refuge. After the meeting, the SWC prepared to respond. They and other volunteers from Loma Negra collected the much needed water along with food and clothing donated by community members. The greatest obstacle to delivering the water and supplies was the flooded road. The Loma Negra SWC transported the safe water using donkeys to pull carts, each weighing more than 1,000 pounds. They walked over three miles with the donkeys on muddy roads to reach the people in Catacaos. ​ “These volunteers and the Safe Water Committee members took great care for those who lost everything,” says Liliana Soberon, a Water Mission Peru Community Development Specialist who was in Piura at the time of the flooding. “They worked hard to not only care for their own community and families but for the common good of those around them.” With God’s help, the citizens of Loma Negra delivered over four days approximately 9,250 gallons of safe water to their neighbors. The Piura Oeste Rotary Club donated funds to cover the additional chlorine needed to treat the water. ​ “This project shows the extent of the Safe Water Committee’s love and generosity to share what they could,” says Vicky Espinoza, another Water Mission Peru Community Development Specialist. “I’m glad to see how Water Mission’s projects are building love in difficult situations and sympathy for people who are from other communities.”