holistic development

Programs / Public Health / Communities / El Cantón «

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About El Cantón

El Cantón is a community with a population of approximately 500 people

living in 91 homes.  It is located in a valley belonging to the municipality of

Teupasenti, in the department of El Paraiso.  El Cantón is an agricultural

community relying on the production of corn and beans for sustenance. 

The average family only earns about 1,750 Lempiras ($90.00) per month,

which averages to less than $1.00 per day per person.  Despite their

arduous work schedules on the fields, community members have been

extremely invested in Global Brigades' projects.  All homes have access

to clean water, public health projects, access to credit via the community

bank, and will soon be able to seek medical attention in the new Health

Center being completed by the Architecture Program.


El Cantón's Public Health Challenge

Many community members in El Cantón lacked the resources needed to

improve their homes and prevent diseases caused by unsafe living

environments.  The majority of homes were made of adobe, mud, and straw. 

Very few homes had hygiene stations, cement floors, and eco-stoves prior to

the arrival of Global Brigades.  Such living conditions triggered disease.  The

lack of hygiene stations led to high rates of diarrhea and waterborne disease,
the absence of cement floors caused parasitic infection and Chagas Disease,
and the lack of eco-stoves resulted in respiratory problems in many
community members.  Not only would the creation of health infrastructure
better the health of household members through improved sanitation and
hygiene, but it would also improve their quality of life as the new water
storage units would reduce time spent walking to water sources and the
eco-stove reduces firewood consumption by about 70%.


Although community members recognized the problems inherent to their living environments, they did not have the economic resources nor the technical knowledge needed to address them.  Moreover, the level of awareness concerning sanitation and the importance of health is very low as the children did not receive any education about the topic.


The Public Health Solution for El Cantón

Public Health Brigaders from several different universities and the Public Health Brigades in-country team worked in El Cantón from December 2011 - August 2012.  During this time, volunteers and staff members worked with community members to:

     • Identify community leaders and train them to form the Basic Sanitation Committee

     • Increase cultural sensitivity and awareness by working side by side with qualified masons and
       project beneficiaries

     • Build 95 eco-stoves, 96 latrines, 95 showers, 95 water storage units, and 233 cement floors

     • Conduct educational workshops emphasizing the importance of sanitation and hygiene in the
       local primary school


To ensure the sustainabiltiy of the in-home infrastructure projects, the Public Health Program provides continuous follow-up in the community.  It also forms and trains the Basic Sanitation Committee, a community body formed by local leaders which monitors the correct usage and maintenance of the new infrastructure.  Clear responsibilities and powers are assigned to each member, making the beneficiaries themselves even stronger stakeholders in the Public Health projects.


Public Health Brigades Chapters that Worked in El Cantón
Public Health Brigades Chapter Month Volunteers
Ohio State University December 2011 10
DePaul University December 2011 19
 University of Southern California January 2012 18
San Francisco State January 2012 8
Penn State January 2012 10
Boston University January 2012 22
Washington University January 2012 14
University of Virginia January 2012 9
St. Louis University January 2012 15
UC Berkeley January 2012 14
Columbia University January 2012 13
Johns Hopkins University January 2012 17
 University of Victoria February 2012 15
Mt. Allison University February 2012 17
University of North Carolina March 2012 16
University of Arizona March 2012 9
Indiana University March 2012 23
Seattle University March 2012 17
TCMC March 2012 9
UC Irvine March 2012 26
UC San Diego March 2012 24
UCSF Medical School March 2012 7
Athletico April 2012 8
University of Southern California May 2012 8
Boston University May 2012 14
Emory University May 2012 11
Arizona State University May 2012 15
Rutgers University  May 2012 19
University of Tampa May 2012 19
Stony Brook College May 2012 27
Arizona State University May 2012 15
Illinois Wesleyan College May 2012 8
Johns Hopkins University May 2012 6
University of Michigan June 2012 25
UC Berkeley June 2012 10
DePaul University June 2012 15
University of Washington June 2012 19
UC Los Angeles June 2012 10
UC Santa Barbara June 2012 19
UC Davis June 2012 27
UC Riverside June 2012 3
Philadelphia Students June 2012 10
University of Nottingham July 2012 11
University of Birmingham July 2012 13
Dublin University July 2012 5
University of Cincinnati August 2012 12
UT Austin August 2012 20
Loyola University August 2012 19


Current Status

Completed: August 2012

After numerous successful brigades, the Public Health Brigades Program exited the community of El Cantón.  Exiting the community signifies that the program no longer brings brigades to this community and will gradually lessen follow-ups to one visit every 6 months - 1 year.  The Public Health Brigades program trusts that the community members will maintain their projects with the assistance of the trained masons and understand the importance of building safe living environments whenever they construct new homes.


Visit Other Programs in El Cantón

Global Brigades strives to implement a model of Holistic Development in communities through a system of collectively implementing health, economic, and education initiatives to strategically meet a community's development goals.  Learn more about the other programs being implemented in El Cantón:

Medical 2014 Icon Small.pngMedicalDental 2014 Icon Small.pngDentalEngineering 2014 Icon Small.pngEngineeringMicrofinance 2014 Icon Small.png MicrofinanceWater 2014 Icon Small.pngWater Business 2014 Icon Small.png BusinessArchitecture 2014 Icon Small.pngArchitectureCHW 2014 Icon Grey.pngCHW




Project Overview
Volunteers 700
Beneficiaries 500
Water Storage Units
Hours of Education


Additional Information
General Community Profile
Public Health Methodology
Pre-Brigade Lesson Plans
Family Profiles
Education Profile