The sinks in your home get a lot of use in an average day. Brushing your teeth in the morning, washing your hands before meals, rinsing off food before preparation, filling a glass with water, doing the dishes, scrubbing your face at night— assuming everything is working as it should, all of these things end with you shutting off the water and going on with your life, the excess water disappearing down the drain.

Without those pipes to remove the water you’ve just used or no longer need, the water stays in your home, unsuitable for consumption, unsanitary for cleaning, and unhygienic for any other use.

783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. We’re working to change this.

Capture_Bolivia_Women_WalkingIn Vacas, Bolivia, the absence of suitable drainage systems in many homes resulted in an ever-soggier, ever-smellier environment as wet floors invited all manner of pests to share the space, and caused injuries for residents. ”I have little time to do my things in the kitchen, so when I wash the dishes, then throw the water on kitchen floor or dirt courtyard, but sometimes my children small slip and fall in the mud,” Eva, a resident in one of Outreach Bolivia’s communities, said. Additionally, acquiring enough water for daily use requires an average of four trips to a distant water source for the women of Vacas.

Teaming up with community members, Outreach Bolivia field staff adapted a preexisting design for a “lavaplatos” (wash basin) sink that could be produced from a mold, constructed with materials sourced from community members’ contribution of sand, gravel, and what money they could spare. Residents with access to a community water source could connect their lavaplatos sinks to it, and those without access could receive a 120 liter tank for a small deposit. Best of all, the sinks easily drained excess water far away from homes through connections to a simple underground system of pipes.

With limited molds available, building the sinks brought the residents of Vacas together to share supplies and experience with their neighbors. While the demand for lavaplatos sinks far outpaced the number of molds on hand, the reduction of costs associated with their construction meant the only remaining expenses for community members was for cement, pipes, and valves, making acquisition affordable to all.lavaplatos

So far, 129 lavaplatos sinks have been constructed by nine different communities in Bolivia benefiting 560 people. Together, they identified the problem, together, they found a solution, and together, they’re building it. By the end of 2016, three more communities will construct 45 more sinks. With the lavaplatos sinks in place, using clean water changes from a complex problem to as simple as turning on a tap.

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Outreach HQ staff members and community partners in Bolivia proudly grin next to the brand new “lavaplatos”