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Cova is committed to helping realize the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6 to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” In addition to SDG 6, Cova’s work also supports gender equality, economic growth, climate action, relieving poverty, and good health.

SDG 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in and there is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. However, due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, millions of people including children die every day from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. EOS’ work will focus on the following SDG targets:

SDG 6.1: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. EOS targets rural populations living in poverty throughout Nicaragua and Honduras, providing water quality solutions at the community scale. We ensure that our community’s water system is operational, and that the community water board has the knowledge and resources to maintain high-quality drinking water for their community members. We also ensure that their drinking water is safe to drink, meaning free of bacterial contamination. Finally, we work closely with the water board to establish an appropriate user water bill that will cover the costs of water system operation and include a reserve for emergencies. These services improve the water for community members and align with SDG goal 6.1 

6.2: By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. Through EOS’ Circuit Riders, the water technicians provide a comprehensive approach to training, including training on the importance of proper sanitation and hygiene. EOS also works in rural schools to teach students as well as teachers on hygiene. 

6.3: By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally. A main component of EOS’ work is providing water treatment in community drinking water systems to remove harmful bacteria. This water quality work is a critical component of drinking water systems to improving and increasing the quality to a safe level for drinking.

6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity. EOS works closely with community water boards to monitor the drinking water use and recommend the implementation of household metering as a strategy to monitor loss and setup a relative water user bill based on water demand.

6.5: By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate. EOS works across the community, municipality, department, and national levels to integrate water resource management strategies in improving drinking water services. EOS targets their work with community water board members to improve the administration, as well as the local and national partners in the department of health to share resources, prioritize needs, align strategies.

6.6: By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes. EOS protects water-related ecosystems through community and municipality consulting on watershed reforestation programs, specifically in the mountains of Honduras. EOS Coordinates, trains and supports local communities for the reforestation, re-development and conservation and sustainability of the water sources.

6.A: By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programs, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies. EOS participates in several national and international WASH associations and alliances to share best practices, learn about new approaches, and collaborate on program implementations.

6.B: Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management. EOS Circuit Riders work directly with community water boards to provide capacity building, training, and technical assistance to improve the community’s drinking water systems.

SDG 1: No Poverty By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day[1]. 1.4: By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to essential services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology, and financial services, including microfinance[2]. Water and poverty are inextricably linked. Lack of safe water and poverty are mutually reinforcing; access to consistent, clean water sources is crucial to poverty reduction. Many EOS beneficiaries are subsistence farmers and earn less than $2 per day. All businesses rely on consistent access to safe water and sanitation from the local farmers’ market to large corporations in the agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries. Water is essential for the growing and processing of food, from local farmers washing produce to processing goods like coffee.

[1] https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

[2] https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being. When unsafe drinking water is not fatal, it makes families too sick to go to school or work, resulting in an underproductive workforce, high healthcare costs, and significant economic repercussions for entire communities and the country. Safe and accessible drinking water is a fundamental human right, yet one of the greatest threats to human health, responsible for over 3.4 million deaths worldwide every year, most of them children. These deaths could be avoided each year if the risk factors associated with unsafe drinking water were addressed. Permanent reduction in Waterborne Illness: Through EOS’ water quality program, independent studies have found that reported cases of waterborne diseases have been reduced by 49-61% in communities where EOS works and 73% fewer reported cases in 5–9-year-olds.

SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. Traditionally, women are restricted from playing a pivotal role in water service delivery and only hold positions such as the treasurer or secretary on Community Water Boards due to cultural, social, and organizational limitations. EOS’ safe drinking water programming overcomes these challenges and traditions by empowering and promoting women to serve in leadership roles, including the President and Vice-President. The operations and community involvement have been superior in communities where EOS has successfully recruited women in these high leadership positions.

5.1: By 2030, end all forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere. Social and cultural gender barriers still limit the participation of women in local governance. Our team empowers women to serve as leaders within the non-political community water boards, which serve as a local utility. The national laws do not pertain; however, our team promotes the correlation and importance of gender equality within these community water boards.

5.5: Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life. Ensuring that women have an equal role in designing, managing, and monitoring community water systems can be a strategic practice that empowers women while improving safe water outcomes. Women’s involvement in decision-making about water resources and safe water programs is critical to their empowerment. Still, it is important not to overburden them with additional unpaid work on top of their existing responsibilities.[3] Gender diversity in decision-making is linked to more effective decisions within communities.  Facilitating the voice of women has intrinsic value in making the women feel included and empowered and instrumental value in improving community water services and uncovering issues that may be hidden if a project only talks to the men. Women are more likely to know the difficulties of accessing safe water and the health issues in the family associated with drinking unsafe water.  Without including their leadership in programs, community safe water programs may be poorly designed, operated, and maintained. Water committees with women in critical positions meet more often, demonstrate improved water system functionality, and are more effective at fee collection than com­mittees without women in critical posts.[4]

[3] Jansz, S and Wilbur, J (2013) Women and WASH. WaterAid: Briefing note

[4] https://www.unicef.org/gender/files/Gender_Responsive_WASH.pdf

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. Access to safe water brings significant economic benefits to communities when healthy parents return to work, and healthy kids return to school. Every $1 invested in improved water and sanitation yields an average return of $4-12 for the local economy. The implementation of water treatment through our program in a community costs a mere $1.83/per year per household, making it highly affordable and a valuable investment in the community’s health. Our team ensures that community water systems are operational. The community water board has the knowledge and resources to maintain high-quality drinking water for its members, including establishing an appropriate user water bill to keep system costs and technical expertise for long-term operation.

SDG 13: Climate Action. Water-related impacts of climate change have adverse effects on food security, health, and the daily livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable individuals. Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of the twenty-first century. Its impacts vary among regions, generations, ages, classes, income groups, and gender. Based on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is evident that people who are already most vulnerable and marginalized will also experience the greatest impacts. The poor, primarily in developing countries, are expected to be disproportionately affected and consequently in the greatest need of adaptation strategies in the face of climate variability and change. Women are increasingly being seen as more vulnerable than men to the impacts of climate change, mainly because they represent the majority of the world’s poor and are proportionally more dependent on threatened natural resources. The difference between men and women can also be seen in their differential roles, responsibilities, decision-making, access to land and natural resources, opportunities, and needs, which are held by both sexes. Worldwide, women have less access than men to resources such as land, credit, agricultural inputs, decision-making structures, technology, training, and extension services that would enhance their capacity to adapt to climate change.

SDG 15: Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and forests. Deforestation is happening at an alarming rate in Central America due to the increased area of agricultural lands, and slash and burn methods of farming practices. One of the root causes of deforestation is the pursuit of better economic opportunities. Deforestation is one of the largest contributors to climate change. Despite the benefits of a healthy forest, restoration is not being implemented at the pace and scale required. This deforestation has direct effects on the quality of community drinking water systems, introducing new contaminants into the water source. Forests and water are essential resources that provide many socioeconomic advantages and services to communities and the environment. Forested watersheds offer high-quality water.[5] Ecological-forest restoration increases the water supply, directly improving drinking water quality and restoring native habitats. Forest restoration increases the resilience of the communities that rely on the benefits of forests – including clean water.

[5] FAO, “Managing forests for cleaner water for urban populations,” Stolton, S. and Dudley, N. (ed), Unasylva 229, Vol. 58, 2007.

SDG 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal. By engaging a diverse network of actors, including the local and national government, NGOs, and rural leaders, we build a support system that ensures program sustainability and empowers rural populations to take ownership of their water quality.