How I Use Project WET: Encouraging Water Conservation and Preservation in Costa Rica

Rosalyn Kutsch in Nosara, at the school where she volunteered.Rosalyn Kutsch in Nosara, at the school where she volunteered. Former Project WET international programs assistant Rosalyn Kutsch has delivered water education globally before. On a cultural exchange to Mongolia, Rosalyn worked with Mongolian kids in the village where she was staying to teach about water, sanitation and hygiene using Project WET activities. More recently, Rosalyn was in Costa Rica on a three-week trip with Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)—an organization that provides international volunteer trips for teens. She went on the trip after receiving a Frederick K. Swaniker Scholarship for Global Citizenship, an award set up by Ghanaian entrepreneur Fred Swaniker to “inspire the next generation of young leaders to propose solutions to global challenges” by offering full or partial scholarships for a trip with GLA. A recent graduate of Bozeman High School, Rosalyn will attend Fordham University in New York City this fall. Here, Rosalyn describes her experience using Project WET with The Initiative for Children™ in Nosara, Costa Rica:

We hadn’t been in Nosara long before I noted a clear need for additional education around sustainable water. The majority of Costa Rica has access to clean drinking water, and the area of Nosara is known for its commercialization and success as a tourist and expat destination. However, the village of Nosara and surrounding communities struggle with the threat of water pollution, mainly due to a lack of awareness of proper garbage disposal and recycling techniques.

In the Blue Planet activity, Rosalyn and the students used a globe and their hands to determine the percentage of fresh water on Earth.In the Blue Planet activity, Rosalyn and the students used a globe and their hands to determine the percentage of fresh water on Earth. We had the opportunity to tour the Nosara Recycling Center and see how they are working to combat improper trash disposal. According to their website, over 60 percent of the 2,400 tons of waste produced daily are put into open dumps, and less than 10 percent gets recycled. Even worse, over 250 tons are illegally dumped per day into rivers and tropical forests—threatening drinking water and other ecosystems. The center is working to increase education in local schools to develop recycling habits in children at a young age.

Additionally, although the typical image Costa Rica brings to mind is one of lush and green rainforests, water conservation is an issue in Nosara. The region of Guanacaste is one of the driest in the country, so usable water is limited for establishments. We experienced a dry spell in our hotel for two days on the trip—making the shortage very real to the participants of the program.

These were both things I kept in mind when I conducted an activity at one of the local primary schools, Santa Marta, during recess. Because of the limited time I was only able to conduct one activity—“Blue Planet,” which uses a simple game catch to determine the percentage of Earth’s surface that is covered with water—but it was the perfect activity to begin the discussion on water conservation and pollution. The children, who ranged in age from 11-14, discussed ways to reduce trash in their water sources—like the nearby river. They also discussed ways to preserve the limited water in the dry season.

I am continually amazed by the success of educational models, like Project WET, that require involvement and engagement to help create sustainable communities for years to come. Furthermore, I am always appreciative of the opportunity to be involved with an organization like Project WET and use their materials to further engage in communities on my travels. 

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