Water Brigades FAQ
What is the objective of Water Brigades?
The objective of Water Brigades is to unite students and under-resourced communities to develop and implement clean water projects through community assessments, water quality monitoring, water treatment, infrastructural development, community leader training, and hygiene, sanitation and water education.
What major need is Water Brigades is addressing?
In the rural communities where Global Brigades works, families often have little or no access to sufficient quality or quantity of water. Without sufficient clean water, the health of entire communities is affected, since water is fundamental for everyday activities including drinking, cooking, cleaning, and maintaining personal and household hygiene. The goal of Water Brigades is to connect students with communities to implement sustainable, community-based solutions to address these dire water needs.
Who gets involved in Water Brigades?
Students of all interests and academic disciplines are encouraged to participate in Water Brigades. Some common disciplines have been in Engineering, Public Heath, International Relations, Biology and Communications. Passion and dedication are the most important requirements for our brigadiers.
Do I need Engineering experience?
None at all. While students with experience or backgrounds in engineering will surely find the hands-on experience of a brigade to be a valuable opportunity to apply their engineering knowledge, Water Brigades are designed for students with any and all areas of expertise to be able to fully engage in the implementation of a community’s water project.
How are projects/communities chosen?
We concentrate on communities with an established Global Brigades presence, in order to take advantage of our already established reputation. From there, we use data collected by our Research and Evaluation Team to identify new community water projects based on their water needs.
What does a student or group do to prepare for a Water Brigade?
The pre-departure packet contains information about specific student preparations for brigades, ranging from packing lists to fundraising. The Student Resource Site also provides links to additional resources regarding Honduras and global and local water issues. Reading through these or carrying out further research surrounding these topics is highly recommended in order to attain basic background information prior to the brigade. Also, since Water Brigades are based on community interaction and participation, some rudimentary Spanish vocabulary would be useful on the brigade as well, although not required. Other important aspects of preparing for a Water Brigade are designing and practicing the lesson plan and activities for the educational component, as well as creating posters and other visual aides. Student groups can also collect and organize donations of school supplies, books in Spanish, or hygiene-related products (soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, etc.) to bring to the community during their brigade.
What does the Water Brigades Team do to prepare for a Water Brigade?
The community-wide projects of Water Brigades require a lot of preparation prior to students arriving in Honduras for the brigade. The Water Brigades Team spends the months in advance of brigades working with community members to assess community water needs, design the new system that will meet those needs, determine, collect, and transport all necessary tools and materials, and coordinate community activities, which range from raising community awareness to preparing the water source for dam construction.
What does a community do to prepare for a Water Brigade?
Several weeks in advance, the community engages in a number of activities to prepare for a Water Brigade. These activities include, but are not limited to, establishing a new Water Council and Basic Sanitation Committee, clearing areas for construction of the new system, organizing work groups, and collecting the necessary tools and other materials available in the community. They also fit their brigade project into their daily work schedules and balance it with commitments to other Global Brigades disciplines present in the community.
Is there a minimum or maximum for groups?
There is currently only a 15 person minimum for Water Brigades groups. Global Brigades will accommodate all groups and provide adequate staff to make each brigade a success.
Do students need to bring any materials?
Appropriate work clothes, shoes or boots, and work gloves are necessary materials for students to bring for a comfortable and successful Water Brigade. Students should also bring any materials they need for their educational component, including poster board, markers, props or costumes for skits, and any other visual aides or craft supplies. Additionally, students can bring any donations of school supplies, books in Spanish, or hygiene-related products for the community.
What does a student do on a Water Brigade?
A student’s Water Brigade experience includes hands-on construction and implementation of a section of the community’s new water system, interaction and cultural exchange with community members, meeting the Water Council and the Basic Sanitation Committee, and designing and presenting an educational component to community members . To see a sample itinerary of a 7-day Water Brigade, visit the Global Water Brigades’ “What a Brigade Looks Like” tab on the Student Resource Site.
What does the community do on a Water Brigade?
The community is an integral part to every Water Brigade. Whether it is digging trenches alongside students or welcoming students into their homes, community members are involved in every aspect of a Water Brigade. Members of the community also complete trainings and form a fully functioning Water Council and Basic Sanitation Committee that help ensure the sustainability of the water project.
How are the Junta de Agua (Water Council) and Comité de Saneamiento Básico (Basic Sanitation Committee) formed and who is forming them?
Members of both the Water Council and the Basic Sanitation Committee are democratically elected by the rest of the community at a general assembly meeting. While the Water Brigades Team provides training and technical assistance, community members are fully responsible for the formation and continued functions of both committees.
How is the water system maintained after Water Brigade leaves the community?
Before leaving a community, Water Brigades ensures that the Water Council and the plumber are fully trained in operation, maintenance and administration of the new water system. Additionally, each household that is connected to the new water system pays a monthly water fee, the amount of which is decided upon by the community with guidance from Water Brigades to ensure the amount is sufficient sustain the system; the Water Council collects and tracks these payments and uses the money to maintain the system, purchase chlorine for water treatment, pay the plumber, and finance any repairs for problems that may arise in the future.
Where do the funds I raise go?
Your in-country costs are split between several areas such as food, lodging, transportation, and staffing. $100 is put toward the Community Investment Fund (CIF), which is used for purchasing supplies for the four infrastructure projects, hiring local mason, and evaluation and follow-up. The complete breakdown can be seen here.
Is this safe?
The safety of the student volunteers is Global Brigades’ number one priority and is the single most important consideration when entering a community or choosing a project. Each country that Global Brigades serves in has implemented safety protocols and policies to decrease any risk of danger and to ensure that any emergency can be properly handled in a prompt and professional manner. For more information on safety precautions, emergency procedures and insurance information please visit the safety section of the Global Brigades Int'l Student Resource Site.