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Clean water keeps communities safe after flooding

Jacinto Martinez Mendez, 61, was the first to be affected by flooding in the community of Goshen in Costa Rica last year. His home is the last along a row of houses just in front of a banana plantation and near a river.  The canals dug to move water safely away from the crops were no match for the amount of rain that fell down over a three week period in June 2015.

The water spilled over and into the home that Jacinto runs a small store out of.

Although the community of 80 households is affected by floods regularly, this was worse than usual. Many people in the community evacuated to shelters, but Jacinto decided to stay to protect his home.
Working for most of his life in the banana plantations, he moved to the community two years ago after retiring.

“I used to work putting plastic bags on the banana trees to protect the bananas,” said Jacinto.

During the emergency, the Costa Rican Red Cross assisted affected communities from the very beginning with evacuations as well as providing ambulance service.

Before the flooding, the community of Goshen had safe water to drink from wells but rain and overflowing latrines contaminated them. Rather than distribute water, the Red Cross decided to try something new—provide water purifiers.

“Even though communities had not used water purifiers before, they were open to it and Red Cross volunteers provided training on how to use them,” said Felipe Del Cid, Disaster Management Coordinator for Central America for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The water purifier was especially important for Jacinto. He suffers from kidney disease and access to clean water is especially important.

“The water purifier I received from Red Cross is the best gift I could receive,” said Jacinto.  

Six months later, and several weeks after another smaller flood hit the community, Jacinto is still using his water purifier.  Thanks to a partnership with the Government of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross is able to continue to support people like Jacinto as they recover and become more resilient to future emergencies.
Showing flood damage
Jacinto Martinez Mendez shows where the floods came up in his home in the community of Goshen, Costa Rica. Photo by: Nicole Robicheau, Canadian Red Cross.
Water filter room
Felipe Delcide, Disaster Management Coordinator for Central America for the IFRC and Red Crescent Societies, examines a filter from a water purification unit that was distributed to affected communities in Costa Rica. Photo by: Nicole Robicheau
Jacinto Martinez Mendez stands beside the water purifier he received
Jacinto Martinez Mendez stands beside the water purifier he received from the Costa Rican Red Cross, which allows him to drink clean water and stay healthy despite having kidney disease. Photo by: Nicole Robicheau, Canadian Red Cross.
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