Imagine having to cross a road everyday to get drinking water, and having tan clothing because the water that comes from your tap is dirty. Having white clothes is a luxury. Diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and skin diseases are commonplace in your community. During water shortages, kids have to come back from school early. Sanitation is just a dream. Human rights to drinking water and sanitation are nonexistent. Where is this is happening?

Monte Verde de Minas, a rural district 25km away from the city center of Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil is in need of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH) services. More than 800 families live in the community where there is no safe water supply nor adequate sanitation. According to community members, this is an old problem and the biggest challenge they face. The water spring is located in a private property that also has cattle breeding. Even though today they try to protect the spring with a fence, the cattle break it and drink the water from the same spring where their water comes. Rain is abundant, yet rainwater is not collected.

A habit is taking deworming medicine on the clock every six months due to the water’s poor quality. Those who have a water filter change it more often due to the large component of suspended solids. If the water were treated, they would not be forced to change the filters as often. Water shortages are common, so they rely on buying water or going further to get water from someone else’s well. The school has to cancel classes when the shortages happen. Sewage goes directly into the river, where they also fish. Ironically, the name of the river in Portuguese is “Rio do Peixe”, or Fish River.

Global WaSH members received this information on May 12th (2021) when they visited the community to understand the situation. Global WaSH is in the territory aiming to strengthen and empower the community in order to advocate for their rights to water and sanitation. Our first action is to raise awareness about WaSH with community members. This is not an easy task, but together we can make a difference. We need your help to keep going!

The reality of this community can change with safe access to WaSH services. Today, there are 800 families in Monte Verde de Minas without safe water. As a start, raising awareness in the community can empower them to create a water management committee. This committee is essential to setting policies on the usage of a water system. Water management committees can also promote health and sanitation education. Next, is articulating the most effective option for a safe water and sanitation system. Together, we can.