Congratulations to GPPI student group Project Honduras, the recipients of a $20,000 grant from the Environmental Resources Management (ERM) Group Foundation in support of their water infrastructure and disease prevention project in Roatán, Honduras.

Team members of the sustainable service-learning project have made six trips to Honduras since 2011 with the ultimate goal of improving water quality in the underserved community of La Colonia-Balfate.

"We congratulate the Project Honduras team on the Environmental Resources Management Foundation grant, which will allow them to continue their important work in Honduras,” says Edward Montgomery, dean of GPPI. “This grant is further evidence of the quality of our students' work and the very real impact they have on the quality of life in the La Colonia-Balfate community.”

A Major Victory

The funding from ERM will be used for supplies and materials to ensure that a community-owned water distribution system delivers chlorinated water, as well as to provide 170 families with water filters to avoid contamination and reduce the incidence of water-borne illness.

"We are thrilled that this grant will give the entire community of La Colonia-Balfate access to chlorinated water. Since only two-thirds of its residents currently have access to treated water, the ERM Foundation's grant is a major victory," says Matt Rogers, student leader of Project Honduras. "We look forward to continuing our work with the Balfate community and evaluating the effects of this essential water purification system among residents."

The community of migrant workers experiences a variety of environmental challenges including mudslides, contaminated water, and overpopulation due to rapid expansion created to meet the demand of the growing tourist industry on the West End of the island.

Enacting Change

Students in Project Honduras have built relationships with local and community leaders in Balfate over the past five years, and worked with ERM to assess water quality in the community, conduct a comprehensive water survey, develop a plan to install household water filters and initiate two capital improvements for the community water system.

Last March, eleven Project Honduras members traveled to Balfate to follow up on their work and found that usage rates in the community were higher than expected. They then distributed 40 additional filters through a lottery via community-wide invitation, and performed a baseline survey to help gauge the filters’ impact. Since then, the team traveled to Balfate in July 2012 to negotiate and finalize the installation of two industrial water tanks, and visited the community again in October to begin construction on the platform on which to install the tanks. Project Honduras has now delivered more than 70 water filters to the community.

"Our students' work in Honduras exemplifies exactly the type of service-oriented values that we at GPPI hope to foster in our young leaders," says Kerry Pace, assistant dean of academic and student affairs and co-founder of Project Honduras. "I'm very proud of our students' commitment to serving La Colonia-Balfate and their dedication to finding successful ways to enact change in this developing community."

Learn more about Project Honduras (now knows as McCourt Policy in Practice - MPiP)