Stories: Ecuador

Ecuador Earthquake Relief

LifeStraw has partnered with the New Ventures Fund to create a platform to consolidate contributions to support earthquake victims in Ecuador. All funds will go directly to providing LifeStraw® Community purifiers to populations hardest hit by the earthquake.


Our partners Fundacion Ceiba installed 10 LifeStraw Community last week. The first two have been provided to families in the Cañas Arriba (Mocora) shelter in the Tabuga region.

After hearing about the need of a small community in Citio La Badea from aid workers conducting assessments, our staff took a 4x4 several kilometers off of the main road to find the community and meet with their leader, Ramon Savando. Our team learned that the community’s water access point was a cistern that was filled by water truck. Since the earthquake, water deliveries had been interrupted due to damaging roads and lack of coordination. They had received some supplies from convoys but these were mostly clothes and some cooking utensils such as plates and cups; nothing covering their major needs. Ramon felt that they could not trust the safety of the water they had currently, but there had been no alternative.As he walked with our team to show them the cistern, Ramon beckoned members of the community who all gathered around in a group. Louis N. Vernon, LifeStraw’s Regional Director for Latin America, began a demonstration to explain the LifeStraw and how it works. Louis also described that the filter lasts longest under a protected shelter or in the shade. However, he also noted that it was clear that there was not a central structure to keep it due to damage from the earthquake.

After a question and answer session in which Louis was surprised by the level of seriousness and engagement, Ramon nominated a community member to oversee daily filtration and distribution to families. Later that day, the team passed by the community again to see if they had any questions and found them in the middle of constructing a temporary shelter for the filter. Louis notes: “I was so surprised and impressed that while some people’s homes were in need of repair, the community recognized that the access to safe water that the filter provided was so valuable that their priority was to construct something that would protect it.”

Sustainability and longer term disease prevention
Thanks to all of your support, we will be able to nearly triple the impact of our initial response over the next weeks and months. For those with experience in disasters, you know a critical time is the period after the initial disaster recovery response where longer term solutions to issues such as shelter, water safety, and disease prevention must be addressed. This is why we always work with local partners who will have a continuing presence on the ground and understand the context best. Over the next few weeks, we will work with our local partners to further assess areas of greatest need that may not be receiving long-term support. We want to ensure we are playing a role in addressing longer-term water safety needs and preventing disease for those who may remain displaced or without access to services.
We’ll continue to send updates on our progress.

The LifeStraw Team



Thanks to all of you who have helped in so many ways to enable LifeStraw to act quickly in responding to the earthquake in Ecuador. Here are updates as of April 26, 2016:

Our team worked tirelessly over the weekend and through Monday to install LifeStraw Community filters in the following communities:

 This is just our initial outreach effort from existing stocks. We are sending an emergency shipment with more filters to Quito which will enable another deployment in the coming weeks.  This will be a critical time when initial supplies such as bottled water start to run out, and a longer term solution like the LifeStraw Community is needed.  It will also enable better scoping of semi-permanent encampments and shelters, which are still popping up.

How were these communities selected?
Our team on the ground partnered up with a group of volunteers on motorcycles that were doing assessments of need in hard-to-reach areas where larger supply convoys were not able to access.  This group would then report back to our staff the locations where water was most in need and where it was unlikely that these communities would receive aid in the near term.  Our team then went out with a 4x4 to reach them, install the filters and train the surrounding community.

The team also chose to provide a LifeStraw Community to the Canoa Health Center, which was seeing a very large volume of patients and did not have sustainable access to safe water. They also provided 2 LifeStraw Community purifiers to the large refugee camp at Canoa, where both affected families and aid workers were able to access safe water.

Our partner/local distributor Sanitron provided extra 4x4 trucks, fuel and a team of volunteers to assist the LifeStraw staff.  In addition, Sanitron installed 2 larger scale water purification systems in Canoa and Jama.

Local partner Sanitron’s truck filled with LifeStraw Community
ecu2Local map drawn in collaboration with motorcyclist volunteers to identify hard-to-reach areas
LifeStraw Community near the camps at Canoa.

The Ministry of Agriculture provided a larger cargo truck for transport of the filters from Quito to Canoa.  The use of this truck, the driver and fuel were all provided for free to the team.  The truck remained with the team throughout the week for staging and storage and the smaller 4x4s were used to reach-out to the community.

Our partner Fundacion Ceiba (a local NGO) has 10 LifeStraw Communities currently at the Lalo Loor Dry Tropical Reserve which is roughly in between Tabuga and Camarones.  Their convoy left yesterday to do assessments of local communities in the area to determine locations of greatest need.  In Tabuga approximately 40% of the buildings have collapsed and the majority of the population are living in 4 separate camps. Camarones has a smaller amount of collapsed building, but is more interior to the coastal highlway and is therefore being passed over by larger convoys.  Over the next 2-3 days, we will report on the exact locations of where these additional filters will be deployed.



Here is an update of the activities that have taken place so far: We currently have a team of staff and partners in Ecuador that are managing logistics, partnerships, deliveries, monitoring and training.   At the outset of the disaster, we had 30 LifeStraw Community purifiers in stock in Quito through our distributor and we have used some of the initial funds raised to deploy all of those units this week.  20 of them left in a convoy on Tuesday with our team in trucks sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture. They arrived in Bahia de Caraquez at 2:30am and slept in tents at a coordination site.  They went out early yesterday morning to do the initial deliveries and we lost cell phone contact because they went deeper into the harder hit areas.  Several of the filters were installed in San Jacinto yesterday, after the team found a community that had not been receiving any other relief support and had no access to potable water. Today that team will be moving to other areas to distribute the remainder of the purifiers.

An additional 10 Community-sized filters are going out with Fundación Ceiba, a local NGO based in coastal Manabi.  They are targeting smaller villages that may not be receiving as much supplies as the larger towns.  They will be sending their Convoy from Quito today and we’ll get updates as well on exact locations.  Their teams are being trained by our staff.


LifeStraw Community delivery to village near San Jacinto yesterday


LifeStraw Community delivery to village near San Jacinto yesterday
Partners from Fundación Ceiba loading their truck to head back to Manabi yesterday

In addition to this initial deployment, we are working to bring in emergency stocks of filters from outside Ecuador at reduced humanitarian pricing. In order to get the costs down and maximize donation dollars, we have been working with cargo providers and contacts in the government to reduce freight, customs, and taxes so we can maximize the number of units that we can send in. That process is ongoing and challenging, but we are working as hard as possible to make sure funds raised have maximum possible impact.

Estamos contigo, Ecuador.



LifeStraw® Community – designed for sustainable disaster response
LifeStraw® Community is a microbiological water purifier that removes virtually all bacteria, viruses and protozoan parasites from water. It has been independently tested by the World Health Organization and meets the highest standards for performance.  It is designed specifically for emergency situations and hard-to-reach areas, requiring no additional batteries, parts, etc. It is capable of purifying up to 100,000 liters of safe water over its lifetime, lasting several years as opposed to short-term water distribution that may only last a couple of days. As such, it provides a long-term sustainable solution to emergency response,.  This helps prevent disease that often occurs in the aftermath of the immediate disaster.

Our experience in disaster response

Vestergaard has been active in responding to emergencies over the past 25 years.  Most recently, the company has been active in responses to the Nepal earthquake in April 2015, Cyclone Pam that hit Vanuatu in March 2015, and Typhoon Haiyan that devastated parts of the Philippines in 2013.  Vestergaard remains active in long-term response in these areas and also works in areas with on-going emergencies such as Myanmar, South Sudan and the DRC Congo.


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