Member Profile: Etta Projects

Member Type
Referred By
Team Blue | Status: approved
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Etta Projects is a development organization striving to alleviate poverty in rural villages of Eastern Bolivia. Our mission is to partner with local communities to identify, prioritize, and implement sustainable solutions to the health, education, and economic challenges of poverty. The core of all projects is training and education to empower participants with the tools to make sustainable changes in their lives. Solutions often focus on, but are never limited to, the areas of water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, education and income generation.

Date Founded 2003-05-01
Primary Focus Water - Community
Secondary Focus Sanitation - Community
History of Water Projects
Related work not on PWX.

Over the past few years Etta Projects has implemented a number of water and sanitation projects, including gravity fed and filtered water projects and ecological composting latrine projects. Our water and sanitation projects merge together new technology with education and training to ensure sustainable results. We have also assisted villages to form and train local water & sanitation committees and have provided 100s of families with education involving the importance of clean water and healthy practices to prevent and treat water-related illnesses. In addition, we leverage our resources and increase project sustainability by guaranteeing local government backing and participation.
1. Improving Health & Hygiene in 25 Rural Villages
The people who live in the 25 villages involved in the Health & Hygiene Project have only one or two contaminated water wells that serve the whole community. Local people lug their dirty buckets to the well and fill them with brown, foul water that they use for cooking, cleaning, bathing, and drinking.
Etta Projects has connected with local NGOs, the Prefecture, municipalities and local government to create a sustainable gravity-fed water system in each village. The partnering institutions are responsible for creating the infrastructure while Etta Projects is charged with implementing the education component, which includes important lessons in hygiene and sanitation that these communities have not had the opportunity to learn.
Etta Projects is working alongside health centers, schools, community leaders, and families to solve health, hygiene, and sanitation problems. The solutions are not sophisticated or costly. Rather, they are a process of developing sustainable improvements to unhygienic habits and creating opportunities that will bring local voices into the process of advocating for future change.
2. Healthy Schools Projects
The 2009 pilot School Garden Project evolved into 2010-2011 Healthy School Project. The program above was expanded to incorporate a teacher development training component. Not only are 11 schools now harvesting their own gardens, but the project brought local teachers to the forefront of a process that encourages students and their families to transform their school and their community into healthy, sanitary places to live. In addition, the local water cooperative is working alongside Etta Projects to guarantee sanitation improvements in all participating schools.
3. Ecological Bathroom Project
Through its ongoing work in rural Bolivia, Etta Projects has repeatedly encountered villages that lack even basic sanitation systems. Most families do not currently have regular access to a latrine system of any kind; those that do use in-ground pits which pose a number of problems in the lowland tropics of Eastern Bolivia. Open pit latrines are a breeding-ground for pests and disease. They frequently become flooded during the rainy season contaminating ground water and causing pervasive run-off of fecal matter.
Sanitation is an important component of community development and critical to improving health conditions for people living in poverty. Throughout 2011, Etta Projects has worked to improve sanitation by constructing 85 ecological latrines in villages where we have previously worked on clean water and hygiene projects.
The ecological latrine we have chosen for this project requires no water and, when used correctly, is self-sustaining. It safely contains waste in two above-ground tanks, separating urine from feces and composting fecal matter to produce a usable fertilizer. Alternating tanks are either in use as a latrine, or capped off and composting. The eco-latrine system has proven successful in other parts of Bolivia and many other countries around the world.
4. Comprehensive Clean Water Project
Our 2009 water project was a sustainable, modular, movable system that provided a simple filter system and an essential education component; experience told us that a system installed without accompanying knowledge base usually fails. So we created an education system so that any water system has the highest potential to be successful.
Education is the key to sustaining this project. Disease exists due to contaminated water source, inadequate transport and storage of water, and poor hygiene and sanitation. Thus, the education plan focused on hygiene and clean water practices. Mediums employed for this education included written materials, video, puppets, theater, and music. Our desire was to develop a community of teachers and learners by teaching children to teach their parents, and women to teach other women and families. We have developed educational materials that are compatible with the literacy and learning levels of the local population while using some tested practices developed by other organizations.
Sustainability of this project has been enhanced by the formation of community health groups. While learning about water, health, hygiene and teaching, the project participants coalesced as a group to learn about leadership, conflict resolution, self-esteem, communication and goal setting. The skills gained and the friendships formed through community organizing have been sustained long after the project's completion.
At the end of the second year of the water program, 76% of the original filtration systems were still in use. In the 55 families that were monitored during the final monitoring phase, water-related illnesses such as diarrhea, scabies, fungus and lice were dramatically reduced. This demonstrates the power of combining effective, inexpensive water filtration with hygiene education. These families also are the stimulus for our 2011 Ecological Composting Latrine Project.

Organization Background

Etta Projects was created in 2003 to honor the life and legacy of Etta Turner, a U.S. teenager whose young life ended tragically in November 2002 when she was in Bolivia as a Rotary International Exchange student. Since our establishment Etta Projects, a legal nonprofit organization both in the United States and in Bolivia, has partnered with Bolivian communities in the Department of Santa Cruz to identify, prioritize, and implement sustainable solutions to the health, education, and economic challenges of poverty. Over the last three years, Etta Projects has made a thriving transformation from programs that serve women and children in one urban area to creating sustainable, participatory projects that now support more than 35 rural communities throughout the Department of Santa Cruz.

Etta Projects is unique to other nonprofits for the significant amount of time we spend in the field not simply installing new technology, but also building capacity and nurturing relationships with local people. Etta Projects does not independently choose its projects; rather we strengthen the community's ability to evaluate their own problems and to identify possible solutions. We are dedicated to participator methodologies, green practices, and the use of local resources. Etta Projects trains village members in system maintenance, financial management, project implementation & design, leadership, and health & hygiene education so that projects are sustainable for the long-term.

Most recently Etta Projects has launched a series of new innovative projects, including gravity-fed water projects, ecological bathroom projects, and healthy schools projects. Last year alone we provided services to over 40 villages in 9 municipalities, assisting approximately 4,500 people build capacity and skills, improve education and gain access to water and sanitation. Our in-country office is based in the city of Montero, and the majority of our programs are implemented in the Integrated North of the Department of Santa Cruz. Etta Projects relies on an ambitious group of staff and volunteers, which include local Bolivian teachers, doctors, agriculturists and Engineers.

Annual Water and Sanitation Budget
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Annual Non-Water
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Bank Info
Etta Projects is a U.S. organization and can accepts checks mailed to the primary address.