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Water Engineers for the Americas

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: International, International Relief

Mission: Water and sanitation projects in poor communities

Target demographics: design, build and help the community itself maintain safe, simple and affordable systems for clean water and improved sanitation.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Since 2004, we donated expertise that has provided water and/or improved sanitation to over 17,000 people in six countries.

Geographic areas served: improverished communities in Latin America

Programs: donation of hydro engineering expertise by volunteers with 10+ years' experience, many with experience in Latin America. WEFTA provides technical and administrative support to needy communities for the construction of drinking water and wastewater systems by working with local non-profit organizations. By assisting these communities in managing their water resources, WEFTA helps improve community access to safe drinking water, makes more clean water available, reduces waterborne diseases, improves hygiene and protects the environment. WEFTA volunteers and the people who support our work believe it is imperative that we invest in simple solutions known to reduce the devastating long-term societal and human costs of unsafe water. We believe that it is within our power–individually and collectively, with well-directed efforts coordinated with people living within the host communities–to provide clean water and sanitation for all, especially those less fortunate than ourselves.

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WEFTA is an institution which, in spite of not having huge resources like other non profits, gives from its heart to those in need with a great desire to be an efficient alternative whose benefits will last for ever thanks to the commitment which marks its actions. WEFTA works directly with communities in an atmosphere of mutual respect and fraternity and this is resulting in miracles. We in Latin America need WEFTA and we trust them!

Enrique Lozano Campos
Honduras

Review from Guidestar

blancasurgeon

Board Member

Rating: 5

The reason I support WEFTA is because you can see the difference it makes in people's lives in a very physical way, water running through a faucet, the smile of children seeing water in their school, the happiness of women having water in front or back of their homes, it is amazingly rewarding. As a volunteer or donor you are welcomed to go visit one of the projects or the project you funded plus talk to the people who benefited, and if you don't speak Spanish, no problem, WEFTA will pair you up with someone who does. WEFTA can bring water to an entire village with a small amount of funding but projects are well built because WEFTA engineers design and oversee projects.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WEFTA is an effective, nimble non-profit dedicated to linking up water supply and treatment specialists between the northern and southern hemispheres of the Americas. From training Bolivian partners in North Texas with local water well drillers to partnering experienced wastewater treatment engineers with municipal leaders committed to restoring the waters of the Peruvian sacred valley leading to Machu Pichu, WEFTA promotes relationships of mutual respect and lasting impact. With its minimal overhead, this volunteer-driven NGO channels donations from people of good will in the U.S. to grassroots water supply and sanitation projects in a multitude of Latin American countries, leveraging local municipal and benefiting community funds and resources to achieve successful water projects. In doing so, historically marginalized communities are strengthened and improved access to safe water in families' homes are seen as an achievement involving shared sacrifice and not a dependency-creating handout.

The biggest challenge facing WEFTA and its local partners is the overwhelming number of requests from materially impoverished communities in light of limited funding.

Review from Guidestar

Advisor

Rating: 5

This is a very effective nonprofit with extremely low overhead. Volunteer engineers use their own vacation time to provide expertise and follow up for simple water systems for communities in Latin America. It is one of the few water organizations that concentrates on this part of the world (only 10% of funding for water projects is designated for Latin America). The communities themselves raise a portion of the money for system materials; they also gather material (such as gravel) and perform the non-skilled labor. WEFTA only works where it is invited, and it has a growing number of requests for assistance due to word of mouth. A great nonprofit to support because the WEFTA's follow-up visits to check on the systems mean they will provide potable water and/or basic sanitation for generations to come.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WEFTA donates time and expertise of its engineers from the US and Latin America so that families can design and maintain affordable water systems. As a volunteer there, I was struck by the dedication and compassion of the engineers.

WEFTA distinguishes itself from other water nonprofits because it guarantees its work for the lifetime of the project. Members return again and again to check on the system and make repairs and adjustments. I know of no other water organization that does this consistently.

Donor

Rating: 5

My favorite memory from Bolivia takes place in front of a small adobe hut in the Alti Plano, surrounded by villagers celebrating their new community well and waterlines. A simple concrete stand has been lavishly decorated with a traditional shawl, hat and skirts to resemble a local Aymara woman. It’s pretty clever. As I move closer for a better look, someone lifts the colorful skirts and turns on the tap—dousing me with clean, very cold, water!
I still have one of the hand woven alpaca shawls that were wrapped around me and a small group of WEFTA engineers as the evening chill set in. I knew these dedicated volunteers had worked closely with this community to design a simple, functional system that included a cold-water tap in front of every home. Now that I think about it—I was probably the only one who didn’t know what was hidden beneath that ’woman’s’ skirts!
More recently, I was lucky enough to combine a trip to Macchu Picchu with a visit to the string of towns along the Valle Sagrada with two WEFTA engineers. No cold wet surprises there, rather a sobering education in the realities of booming tourism and a desperate need for adequate sanitation. This time, I was more aware of the lengthy preparation that goes into such a project—WEFTA engineers do not offer advice or expertise that has not been requested.
Macchu Picchu is stunning—but it is the days I spent in the string of communities along the polluted, garbage strewn Urubamba River that remain in my heart. As a donor, my job was basically to stay out of the way and let the WEFTA engineers and the local officials do their work—but I was encouraged to come along and see for myself both the need and the proposed solutions, and share in the celebrations.
How many trekkers can boast of looking down every(I swear!) sewer in the valley, and eating roasted guinea pig(heads and cute little feet intact) at a community feast?
I have gladly increased my financial support to WEFTA every year, and hope I can continue to do so. WEFTA is a non-profit like no other I’ve encountered and I encourage anyone interested in the human right to clean water and sanitation to support them as well.