May 25, 2015 |

Strengthening communities: a clean water partnership makes lives better

How a coffee giant and PATH came together to develop long-lasting water, hygiene, and sanitation solutions.

Since 2012, PATH has been partnering with Starbucks Foundation to improve access to clean drinking water and improve sanitation and hygiene in two Tanzanian coffee-growing communities. Poverty and sickness were rampant in these communities says Anna Mbise, a PATH consultant in Tanzania, partially due to lack of access to safe water and improved sanitation.

Mtemi Miya, an agronomist with Starbucks agrees, noting that it was important to help the farming communities produce quality coffee through sustainable practices, “but to also lead a better life.”

Both Anna and Mtemi are part of an innovative program that uses a participatory approach to bring health within reach to everyone on a community level.

Next steps: finding out where help’s needed

Starbucks provided PATH with the resources to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment in both communities. The outcome of this review was clear: there was a problem with safe water. So PATH and Starbucks decided to focus on improving water, sanitation, and hygiene systems.

“We visited the primary schools and looked around to see what the facilities looked like,” says Jesse Schubert, technical officer at PATH. “What we found was that the conditions of the latrine facilities in the schools were pretty bad.”

Changing behaviors to change lives for the better

Three people walking along the side of a road balancing colorful water jugs on their heads.
PATH has worked successfully in dozens of countries across multiple regions to develop sustainable solutions in the field of water, hygiene, and sanitation.

PATH developed a hands-on sustainable program to increase access to and use of safe water, improved sanitation, and hand-washing facilities and services. Now the program is building the capacity of community leaders and changing community attitudes and behaviors to positively impact the lives of thousands, especially women and children.

Schubert adds, “The Starbucks Foundation is really interested in approaches that are sustainable for the long term. That’s also something PATH believes in, at our core. We need to create and implement solutions that are long lasting and will continue when we’re not there.”

It’s through successful programs like this project in Tanzania that we can pave the way to replicate more successes in other areas of the world.

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  • Portrait of Tracy Romoser. Photo: PATH/Patrick McKern.
    Tracy Romoser was formerly a communications officer and the blog editor at PATH.