Web link

www. WaterForHumans.Org

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Support our Year end campaign


Consider making a year-end, tax deductible donation to Water for Humans to help provide water and sanitation to five remote, rural villages in the northern mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. 

Water for Humans is working with THE HUNGER PROJECT (THP) in Mexico, which completed a yearlong process of developing community plans for each of the villages. Their top priorities are improving their water and sanitation conditions. We are providing technical expertise to complement excellent social work THP does to empower community members. 

During the dry season (Dec - March), villagers hike up to five hours a day (both ways) through mountainous, treacherous terrain to obtain water. For sanitation, they now use shallow pit toilets which risk ground water contamination and the spread of disease vectors. 

Roof-Rainwater HarvestingDry LatrineOur solutions include household rainwater harvesting, agricultural rainwater harvesting, water filtration (for drinking) and composting (dry) latrines. 

Your contribution today will benefit the residents of Cerro Alto, Cerro de Trueno, Piedra de la Luz, Rancho Pineda and Rancho Genova by bringing water and better sanitation to these villages. 

Cook StovePlease meet Maria Tejeda Garcia from Cerro Alto. She hikes over 1.5 hours in each direction to get her daily water during the dry season. She cooks on an open fire (three stone) and has a substandard latrine. 

Your donation will help Maria upgrade these outdated systems. 

  • Your gift of $60 will provide the conveyance (gutters and downspout) & first flush filter for a household rainwater harvesting system;

  • Your gift of $40 will provide a slow, biosand filter to purify the water for drinking;

  • Your gift of $350 will provide a complete dry latrine;

  • Your gift of $225 will provide a high efficiency long life clean cook stove.

You can make it happen with just a few clicks of your mouse!

Online donation system by ClickandPledge 
The villagers are looking to you to help with $40, $60, $225 or $350 by clicking here Donate Now. It's that easy.

Will you help us get to the next stage of this important project? We hope your answer is 'yes' and say MUCHAS GRACIAS!

Rick and Stan

We hope you and your family are enjoying the holidays.

To learn more about Water for Humans and our work in Oaxaca please visit our website:www.waterforhumans.org and check our Blog. Remember to "like us" on Facebook

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wastewater treatment plant contract signed

Today is a milestone day.  E finally (after more than a year) have signed and sent off the contract to the Oaxaca State Government to evaluate 100 defunct waste-water treatment plants.  This is both a big and very important project for us and the State of Oaxaca.

This all started over 13 months ago when we spent three days with the finance minister of Oaxaca discussing water and sanitation issues the state is facing.  From these meetings we proposed this analysis work to help the state determine which treatment plants are repairable and which are not.  The objective is to help the state spend its resources wisely to remedy the problem of the non functioning plants.

This will be a six month project that is scheduled to start in early December 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bonds of tradition are a financial bind for Oaxacan migrants

This is a great article form the LA Times.  It outlines some of the difficult Mexico's second poorest state and its challenges it is having with traditional culture and government.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A third-world dimension- Recycled plastic toilets

Please see this article in the Economist about a new partnership we are developing.
3D printing
And in the Seattle Times
turn trash into better lives in Third World

"Mr Rogge, Ms Weeks and Mr Bowman intend to employ their prize money to do precisely that. They plan to form a firm that will, in partnership with a charity called Water for Humans, custom-build composting toilets and rainwater collectors. The partnership will look for suitable local entrepreneurs in poor countries and will train them how to build, use and maintain the printers.
Once the technology is established for toilets and water collectors, other products will be introduced. The local partners will know what products are needed and how much people are prepared to pay for them—and therefore what is worth making. The operation will thus run on a commercial basis. But the software that controls the printers will be open-source and available to all, as will many of the designs for things the printers can make. That way, the technology can spread. A trial will begin soon in Oaxaca, Mexico."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Interview with Dean Kamen and CEO of Coca Cola

Here is a Charlie Rose interview with Dean Kamen, inventor of the Slingshot for water purification, and Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca Cola, about the global water crisis and how they will team up to make a difference.  It runs about 25 minutes.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Testing a Social Business Model for Ecological Sanitation

SOIL Launches the Household Toilet Project in Shada, Cap-Haitien Haiti


SOIL Launches the Household Toilet Project in Shada, Cap-Haitien HaitiFor those familiar with SOIL, the Household Toilet Project probably doesn’t sound all that new. For years we’ve dreamed about a social business model for providing household sanitation in Haiti, and today we are happy to report that our dream has started to become a reality! On October 30, 2012, SOIL and our partners at Re.Source installed the first 25 private household toilets in the Shada neighborhood of Cap-Haitien. The SOIL inauguration hosted yesterday was a combination of celebration and logistics: families signed a contract with SOIL, picked up their toilets, and participated in a SOIL training, but they also sang, danced, and rejoiced with Regional Director Theo Huitema. This dream has been a long time in the making!....(more)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Today is Global Handwashing Day

October 15, 2012 is the 5th anniversary of Global Handwashing Day!!  Handwashing with soap is the “vaccine” that prevents infections.(more)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Recent Interview with water.org Founders

Here is a recent Charlie Rose interview with Matt Damon and Gary White, co-founders of water.org about the global water crisis.  It runs about 30 minutes.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Gates Foundation makes poop a priority, puts toilet innovation front and center

Posted at 06:05 PM ET, 08/15/2012
Bill Gates, right, looks at a device that uses solar energy to treat human waste, as he tours the "Reinventing the Toliet" Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren - AP)
Bill Gates wants your ideas — ideas to improve the one thing most people probably don’t like to think about until they have to: the toilet.

That’s right, there’s a global problem when it comes to the bathroom throne: not everyone has access to one. More specifically, they lack access to clean sanitation services.

In July 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced an initiative to reinvent the toilet, along with $265 million in grants spread across a variety of efforts to spur greater innovation in sanitation.(more...)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I am behind the curve for posting, but I have been very busy.  July 26 I flew to Mexico City to Meet with THE HUNGER PROJECT- Mexico to go on a six day site visit to the Sierra Alto region of the Mazateca near San Jose Tenango.  San Jose Tenango (N18 09.046, W96 43.024) is located in the northern rain forest mountains of Oaxaca.  This trip was focused on visiting four remote communities and performing a site analysis.  The site analysis included many challenges and opportunities.

  • Water and sanitation
  • Clean cook stoves
  • Improving the housing
  • Trail improvements
  • Understanding their agricultural practices
  • Their coffee production
This is a short list of the areas I focused my attention to.  

The trip was AMAZING in that to get to two of the communities we hiked for several hours on some of the most difficult trails I have ever been on. (Blogger will not insert the photo in the correct orientation, it is rotated 90 degrees)!

THE HUNGER PROJECT has been working in these four communities: Rancho Pineda, Cerro Alto, Genova, Piedra de la Luz, for the past several years and now the communities are organized enough to bring i n the technical experts.

This is a GREAT opportunity for us as this is a large long term project starting in these four communities and the vision is to expand to over 100 communities.

After the site visit I then spend a few days in Mexico City (D.F.) working with THE HUNGER PROJECT and eating tacos :)

I am in the middle of writing up the site visit analysis, thus I will post more over the next few weeks.  Hopefully I can find a "workable fix" to the rotated images problem, so you can see the communities.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

H2020 - Water Poverty Initiative

H2020’s Water Poverty Initiative uses mobile devices to collect data on water quantity, quality, access and price in communities.  We combine this “crowdsourced” information with data from other sources (like water poverty reports and satellite images) and publish it using a map-based format (more...)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reinventing the toilet is Bill Gates's new mission

NEW DELHI: Reinventing a toilet that has an operational cost of $0.05 per user, per day, that does not rely on water to flush waste and does not discharge pollutants is Bill Gates' latest mission. According to him, no innovation in 200 years has saved more lives than the toilet.

But the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says 2.6 billion people still don't have a safe "affordable way to poop".

Speaking to TOI on Thursday, Gates said the best toilet right now is the flush toilet and everything else is vastly inferior. "One of my ultimate dreams now is to reinvent the toilet - find a cheaper alternative to the flush toilet that does not require running water, has smell characteristics better than the flush toilet and is cheap."....more

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Future of Water: The Slingshot

Dean Kamen is possibly the world's greatest living inventor. Although he has been well-known among futurists for years, he rose to wider fame when he invented the Segway in 2001. His inventions also include the world's first wheelchair capable of climbing and descending stairs, and the world's first drug infusion pump which is used to provide diabetics with insulin on an as-needed basis. Kamen is remarkable because unlike most inventors, he does not work under the umbrella of a large corporation, university, or government agency. He is truly a DIY innovator....(more)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Africa's Hidden Water Wealth

Published: June 17, 2012

FOR a continent where more than 300 million people lack access to safe drinking water, Africa is sitting on a lot of it.

The journal Environmental Research Letters recently published a set of maps of groundwater resources in Africa, the results of two years of research led by the British Geological Survey and financed by the British Department for International Development. The research showed that in Africa the volume of water naturally stored underground within the cracks and pores of rocks is much larger (possibly 20 times more) than the 8,000 cubic miles of water visible in lakes and rivers...more

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oaxaca May update

It has been a much too busy week and a half here in Oaxaca. We arrived on Sunday night the 13th for what we hoped to be a full day of meetings with the head of the state water commission (CEA) and then a follow-up meeting with Sr Cajiga (the Finance Minister).  On the up-side ½ of the agenda happened.  We were not surprised as this is the way schedules and meetings go down here.  Typically, you have a meeting scheduled with someone or something perceived as more important comes up and the original meeting is canceled.  This happens all the time and you cannot take it personally (except that it shows you are lower on the priority list).

We came to Oaxaca specifically to meet with the head of CEA (Ruben), Adriana (from the finance minister’s office) and the Finance Minister Sr Cajiga. Our goal and purpose is to finalize and sign several contracts to help the state government analyze the health of many of their wastewater treatment systems and develop a framework and process for the Finance Minister’s office to follow when evaluating potential public works projects.  In the month prior to this trip we had been talking with Adriana who is the head of investment for the Finance Minister.  She helped us re-scope our proposals and arranged our meetings with the water commission and the finance minister.

Our flights were good and uneventful.  We left Seattle at about 7am on Sunday 13 May and arrived safe in Oaxaca by about 10:30pm.  Firdaus Jhabvala (Dr. J) had arrived about an hour earlier and was already checked into our regular hotel when we got there.  It was late but we stretched our legs with a walk to the Zocalo while strategizing about our next few days in Oaxaca.  Our first meeting was with Adriana at the INSO offices to formally meet her and prepare for the afternoon meeting with the state water commission.  Adriana informed us that we would NOT be meeting with Sr Cajiga because he was called out of town.  Thus, we knew the entire process would take much longer then she had planned.

Our first meeting with Sr Ruben (the head of the state water commission - CEA), went as we expected.  He was not receptive to our proposal, as it would take work away from him and potentially change the way he does business.  Dr J was GREAT as he called Ruben’s bluff and then Adriana jumped in and told him he needed to play by the Finance Minister’s ideas.  We left the meeting agreeing we would meet again on Wednesday to hopefully come to an agreement.  Adriana then treated us to a great lunch and we got a chance to socialize and talk some business.

We then got back to work modifying our proposal and budget to reflect the potential lack of support from CEA.  This included enlarging the scope of work and including time and budget to train and gather all the background data that CEA says does not exist!  We then met Adriana for breakfast on Wednesday morning.  We went to a great café that is a coffee co-op and helps coffee farmers improve their crop and value.  Adriana was very interested in the other work we are doing in Bravo Ahuja (rain harvesting) and our potential work with The Hunger Project.  After talking about these projects for awhile we got down to business.  I must first say we were the benefit of being more important. :)  Adriana initially said she had to leave by 9am to attend another meeting.  To our surprise she canceled it to stay with us.:)  We spoke about our new scope of work and the increased budget.  She was happy to hear our plan, and was not put off by the increase in the budget.  The rest of the day we cleaned up the proposals and we found a mistake in the budget spreadsheet we were working on close to midnight the night before!

We all gathered at 6pm at the CEA offices just outside of town to have our second meeting with Sr Ruben. This one went better than the first as we think he was told he has to go along with our plan as proposed by Sr Cajiga.  Still the meeting went for several hours until Sr Ruben agreed to our proposals.  We left with Adriana tasked with trying to find and secure a meeting with Sr Cajiga.  We knew this would take 3-5 days, but as it turns out it will be longer.

To help Adriana better understand exactly what we will provide, we took the CEA proposal and went line by line detailing the differences in our proposal and the CEA proposal.  The CEA proposal was basically a plan to raise and rebuild 99 treatment plants without understanding if they are repairable or the root cause of failure.  We have come to learn that CEA does not feel any responsibility for the failed plants and they are incentivized to build new ones vs fixing or developing a new process to ensure plants continue to work after they are built.  Adriana was very happy to receive these reports, as this will help her in talking with Sr Cajiga.

Dr J left to return to home to Houston on Thursday morning.  Adriana’s original idea about staying through midweek to finish up was much too optimistic.  Since our last meeting, we have been trying to put the proposals in their final form with the latest changes and in the format expected by CEA and the Finance offices.  We’re putting together our best guesses with the information that we have.  We are on hold with Adriana and Sr Cajiga waiting until he is available to meet with us.  Right now, we hope to meet with him on Tuesday 29 May, after we return from Mexico City (D.F.) from our meetings with The Hunger Project.

 Just because we have not yet met with Sr Cajiga does not mean we are sitting around partying!  We have been meeting with officials from Santo Domingo Barrio Bajo Etla (SDBBE), the filter company (working to install the filter system at the school at SDBBE), a representative from the Pura Vita coffee organization, The Oaxaca Hub, and Juan Jose (INSO) to plan how to manage the upcoming work with Sr Cajiga’s office and CEA.

Around town the city is at the beginning of the annual teachers’ strike which blocks most of the streets surrounding and including the Zocalo.  Nelly tells is this can go on for 3- 15 weeks!  First, it is TOTALLY PEACEFUL and it is sort of a huge street party.  Because there are teachers from all over the state, there are a lot of different craft vendors selling their wares.  Next, there is lots of GREAT street food on almost every corner.  The bummer is that the already bad traffic is even worse!

Our tickets to return to Seattle are for Wednesday 30 May.  At this point Stan will return as scheduled and Rick will stay another week or two in the hope of finalizing the contracts and securing the advance so we can start working on these important projects.

Stay tuned for more exciting news ( as we have time to write about it) :)

Rick & Stan

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We are off to Oaxaca :)

Stan, Dr Jhabvala, and myself (Rick) are off to Oaxaca on Sunday 13 May to finalize our contracts with the Oaxaca State government.  This event has been a long time in coming, but it is finally here :)  Stan and I stay a few weeks to work on our existing projects, and meet with the Hunger Project in Mexico City.

Check the blog for updates while we are in Oaxaca as we try to post something every few days.

Wish us good luck :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

GiveBIG - May 2, 2012

This year Water for Humans will participate in the Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG fundraising campaign on May 2nd.  In addition to the donations made to the Water for Humans page of the Seattle Foundation’s website, they will also distribute the GiveBIG stretch pool on a proportional basis. What does that mean? If Water for Humans raises 2 percent of all the money raised through GiveBIG, then we will get 2 percent of the stretch pool. The more you give, the more of the stretch pool Water for Humans will get. Last year, every $100 in donations resulted in an additional $14 from the stretch pool, so every gift really does make a difference and results in more money for Water for Humans!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Water In The Time Of Cholera: Haiti's Most Urgent Health Problem

NPR - Morning Edition, April 12, 2012
In the teeming city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, millions of people have no reliable water supply.  Many of the underground pipes that did exist were ruptured by the 2010 earthquake. Many public water kiosks are dry.  So life for most people is a constant struggle for water. And now that cholera has invaded Haiti, safe drinking water has become Haiti's most urgent public health problem. Contaminated water is the main cause of cholera, which has sickened 530,000 Haitians since late 2010 and killed more than 7,000.

To listen to the NPR report, click here,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oaxaca seeks declaration of "GM-free territory"

Members of the Monitoring Committee of the First State in Defense of Native Corn, reported that the "Corn for everyone in the Coast" promotes entry into the body of transgenic grain. In response, state claimed Oaxaca as "GM-free territory", so it submitted a formal request to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT).
In an interview, the representative of the group, Armando de la Cruz Cortes, said that the document emanating from the meeting held on March 31 in the Ethnobotanical Garden which was attended by indigenous peoples and communities.

He noted that even when there is food shortage in the state, the authorities have a policy to solve the problems facing indigenous peoples and on the contrary, the programs generated a strong dependency on agribusiness. With this, denounced, are allowed access to modified seeds, without giving up the impact, environmental, social and cultural development within the territory. Hence the delivery of this request to the Semarnat, it will also state government, since priority is given to the entry of GM and native seed stored in banks termoplasma. He said that Mexico imports more than 10 million tons per year from seed, of which 80 percent is genetically modified and is distributed through programs like Diconsa and through the "Corn for everyone in the Coast". He said that since 2002, when it detected the introduction of modified seed, there has been no study, so there is no knowledge of how far along pollution.
As he said, is a requirement to make the analysis, so they announced that they will remain to give the authorities response to this request.

With information from Olivia Hernandez

Monday, March 19, 2012

Launch of the 4th edition of the World Water Development Report

The World Water Forum
The World Water Assessment Programme is pleased to announce that on 12 March 2012, on the first day of the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, France, the UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova, launched the widely anticipated 4th edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR4) ‘Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk’.


Volume 1: Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk
Volume 2: Knowledge Base
Volume 3: Facing the Challenges

Click here to download WWDR4

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

PLU Talk "Suffering from water in Oaxaca"

From the talk Rick gave at PLU late last month.

"We all need water, said Rick McKenney, executive director of Water for Humans.

McKenney kicked off the second day of the Wang Center’s Water Symposium with a talk about the challenges and opportunities with water and sanitation in Oaxaca.

“Suffering from water – this is what Mexicans say when they are dealing with a lack of water,” McKenney said. “Mexico considers water a public right but there’s a juxtaposition and some tension there. How do you equitably charge people for this asset?”
By By Katie Scaff '13

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Millennium development goal on safe drinking water reaches target early

UN tempers news that 89% of global population can access safe drinking water with warning that sanitation MDG is a long way off

The international target to halve the number of people who do not have access to safe drinking water has been met, five years before the 2015 deadline, the UN announced on Tuesday.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef joint monitoring programme for water supply and sanitation (JMP), between 1990 and 2010 more than 2 billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells. Using data from household surveys and censuses, the JMP said at the end of 2010, 89% of the population – 6.1 billion people – now used improved drinking water sources, 1% more than the 88% target contained in millennium development goal (MDG) number seven, set in 2000. more

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Thirsty planet PLU

Please join me Thursday evening and Friday for a conference at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma WA.

Maud Barlow is the Keynote speaker and will speak Thursday evening and the conference will go all day Friday. Rick Will speak about

“Oaxaca: Water and Sanitation: Challenges and Opportunities” at 9:15 Friday morning.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Meeting with the Oaxaca Finance Minister

Juan Jose (the director of INSO) met with the Finance Minister of Oaxaca on Monday night to discuss our proposal to help the State with some of its water and sanitation challenges. We have been working on this proposal for many months now and working hard to secure a discussion with Mr Cagija after we were hosted by him in earlier last Fall.

Our proposal is a four part plan to help the Minister better understand the water and sanitation situation in Oaxaca and proved him with sustainable solutions. Our proposal covers:
  • Develop a strategy for water and sanitation for the central valley
  • Review the existing wastewater treatment plants and determine if they can be brought up to federal standards.
  • Provide the Minister with a framework (technical, economic, environmental, sustainability) to evaluate new water and sanitation projects.
  • Plan the implementation of pilot projects to demonstrate the technology innovations outlined in our strategy.

Like many things in Mexico they move much slower than here in the US. Thus, we are cautiously optimistic that we can secure this contact within the next few months.

Monday, January 9, 2012

SAVE THE DATE Feb 9th!!!


The gift of safe water
February 9th
7:00-9:00 pm
Seattle University Student center

Live music, silent & live auction, and key note speakers with

Easy parking on James just across the street

Tickets: $25 (includes a raffle ticket)

Water for Humans is a 501 3(c) non-profit
supporting sustainable water & sanitation projects.

For more information: www.WaterForHumans.org