Featured Project

Free community handwashing stations

When the COVID pandemic hit Mexico in early 2020, public health authorities emphasized the importance of washing hands in order to reduce the spread of the virus. Other common diseases in Mexico like diarrhea, digestive tract and respiratory infections can also be avoided by washing hands. Unfortunately, public bathrooms in small towns often don’t exist, or are not working.

Travler responded to this public health challenge by designing and deploying free community handwashing stations, made primarily from recycled materials. Beginning in March 2020 we built and deployed several of these “Lavamanos” stations in busy public areas of San Pancho and Sayulita including the town square, parks, a hospital entrance, a playground, near the town entrance and at food stands.

The COVID pandemic has subsided, but communicable diseases are still a big problem in Mexico. The free community handwashing stations at these public sites have become popular and are still needed for public hygiene. Local residents, visitors and tourists alike welcome the opportunity to wash their hands before and after a meal, while enjoying the public park, when shopping in town or after a visit to the beach.

Unfortunately, as of 2024 many of the stations are in disuse because Travler has not been able to raise the funds to pay a maintenance person to keep them in clean, serviceable condition.

The handwashing stations require regular maintenance to refill with water and soap, add chlorine to prevent mosquito larvae, wash out the sink, and occasionally repair a broken part. Maintaining the stations is a good full-time job opportunity for a local resident, because there are not many other unskilled work options in these rural towns. The labor cost for one person to maintain handwashing stations in one town, a part-time job, is about $320 USD per month. Maintenance supplies and replacement parts cost about $32 USD per month for every 6 stations.

In 2024 the parts to build each handwashing station in Mexico cost about $75 USD. Most parts are found recycled, but the large plastic drum (originally used to transport bulk powdered goods like flour) costs about $45 USD from recycling dealers, the water and soap pumps cost about $15 each. Travler’s goal is to teach and employ at least 2 local people to build and maintain at least 6 more of these portable handwashing stations.

To maintain the existing free community handwashing stations, Travler must raise a minimum of $4,200 USD per year for maintenance per each set of 6 handwashing stations, and $600 to build and deploy each set of 6 additional handwashing stations.

To create and distribute a how-to guide and video so that this program can be replicated (see below), we need to raise at least $4,800 USD.

If this unique program interests you, please donate here to help Travler continue to support it.

Based on the success of this program, we believe it could be repeatedly easily in rural areas around the world where water is scarce and few public facilities exist for hygiene. Travler’s long-term goal is to publish and host a multi-lingual online video guide with support resources to show anyone how they can build and deploy these handwashing stations in developing areas around the world. We estimate a cost of $4,800 to launch that project.

This project contributes directly to Travler’s sustainable community goals of improved public health, and access to clean water and sanitation.

Help us maintain and deploy free community handwashing stations in Mexico, and publish an online guide so that other communities can repeat this success worldwide.