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American Rotarians raise $48K for South American drinking water project

Guyanese workers drill the well that now supplies Coomacka’s 1,000 residents with safe drinking water. Photo courtesy Wilmington Rotary Club.

(PORT CITY DAILY) More than 1,000 people in the village of Coomacka, in the small South American republic of Guyana, don’t have to depend on a polluted river for their drinking water any longer after a delegation of Wilmington Rotarians, with $48,000 to work with, helped to correct that problem, according to a news release from the Wilmington Rotary Club.

Rotarians visited Guyana last year and dedicated a recently installed water system in February.

“During each year’s two rainy seasons, the Demarara River rises and floods the town’s pit latrines, contaminating what had been the town’s only water supply,” John Meyer, president of the Wilmington Rotary Club, said. “Resulting health problems burdened the scanty local medical system and contributed to the area’s poverty. The solution was a new deep well, with a solar-powered pump, above-ground storage tanks, and a system of distribution pipes that have put clean water within easy reach of 180 households.”

Money raised by the Wilmington Rotary Club and the Wilmington East, Coastal Pender and Cape Fear Rotary clubs, $10,000 in matching funds from the Rotary district that includes Wilmington, plus a $19,000 Rotary Foundation Grant, paid for the system.

The Wilmington Rotary Club, which took the lead in organizing the project, made a cash contribution of $12,500. The Rotary Club in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital and the nearest major city to Coomacka, contributed money and continuing oversight on the project.

Residents of the Coomacka community have committed to providing security for the project’s infrastructure, which will cost the equivalent of $140 a month, or 30,000 Guyanese dollars.

Local contractors did most of the work, and bought all needed materials in Guyana, helping the nation’s economy, Meyer said. After the well began producing water, the contractor began laying pipes to supply standpipes around the village. That work was completed in late 2014. On a return visit in February, a Rotary delegation, including the district governors of the two Rotary districts involved in the project, turned the taps to officially inaugurate the system.

The on-site work began last July 16, when Wilmington Rotarians spent a week working in Coomacka, overseeing the water project and building the first of three bus shelters that were paid for by Wilmington’s St. Mary Catholic Church. The visiting Rotarians also applied dental fluoride treatments to 125 children, and offered advice on sanitation, public health and entrepreneurship to local residents.

The Wilmington Rotary Club, which was founded in 1915, just concluded a major fundraising campaign in connection with its 100th anniversary, which is being celebrated this month. The goal was to raise $100,000 for use in future projects, both in Wilmington and abroad. The club’s centennial banquet will be March 28 at the Wilmington Convention Center.

The worldwide Rotary movement’s areas of focus are disease prevention and treatment; clean water and sanitation; maternal and child health; literacy and basic education; economic and community development; and peace and conflict resolution.