SEATTLE, Aug. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The connection between a Seattle environmental non-profit and the world's largest banana producer, Dole Corporation, is improving health in seven rural Guatemalan villages.
Water and Sanitation Health (known as WASH), Seattle, was founded on the belief that people everywhere have a right to clean water. WASH has a long history with improving the health of villagers living close to large banana plantations in Central America.
As serious health issues became apparent in villages adjacent to one of Dole's nearly two years ago, Dole Corporation and BANASA stepped up to help.
"Rather than engage in the negatives associated with protracted litigation, the prominent multinational corporation proved they intended to work with us to do the right thing," states Eric J. Harrison, founder of Seattle-based WASH.
After becoming aware of serious issues impacting villagers, Dole sent executives to Guatemala to meet Harrison at the plantation to discuss issues of health concerns related to water and sanitation. According to Harrison, "They promised to work with us to address those issues, and they have lived up to that promise. What a difference a year makes."
Within weeks of the meeting, Dole, BANASA and WASH worked out a plan to put locally produced water filters in every village home, school and health clinic. The result? "The impact was nearly immediate," Harrison stated. 1,184 school children and the first of seven local communities have received clean, purified drinking water via new purification filters. The villagers will continue to receive new water filters every 18 months for the next 5 years. The filters are produced in Guatemala from local raw materials, adding jobs to the local economy.
In addition to the water filters, local community health clinics adjacent to the large banana plantation have received life-saving medicines and supplies including antibiotics and ointments, extending the banana producer's commitment to good health for local villagers.
BANASA also built buffer zones along the perimeter of the plantation and communities to protect against blowing fungicides sprayed on the trees.
According to Harrison, BANASA recently completed construction of a new water tower for one local community that pumps water directly into homes, schools and clinics, through the purification filters – discouraging villagers from pulling unfiltered water from the adjacent river. "It is remarkable the positive impact that Dole and BANASA have made locally," Harrison stated.
WASH will continue to work with Dole and BANASA to provide clean water education to locals, and sanitation training to schools and clinics. "Bottom line, the health of the villagers adjacent to one of Dole's largest producers is hugely better today as a result of Dole's and BANASA's authentic corporate stewardship," Harrison said.
To receive more info, contact Water and Sanitation Health (WASH) at (206) 388-8092, or India Simmons, PR Ink, inc: (206) 229-2501.
To learn more about WASH, go to www.WaterandSanitationHealth.org