Navajo and Hopi families lack running water; self-contained handwashing stations can help

Aug 13, 2020

Handwashing helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. For many families living on the Navajo and Hopi Nations, doing so is difficult due to lack of running water. Non-profit Red Feather Development Group provides small handwashing systems.
Credit Red Feather Development Group

Up to a third of the households on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations lack access to clean running water. This can be a particular problem for maintaining hygiene, especially during a pandemic. Now an Arizona organization is installing self-contained handwashing stations for tribal members.


Joe Seidenberg is Executive Director of the non-profit Redfeather Development Group, a Flagstaff, Arizona-based organization that works to create healthier home environments on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations. They do minor and major home repairs and weatherization. And recently, they started installing do-it-yourself hand washing stations at homes without running water.

The stations consist of two 35-gallon trash bins - one each to hold freshwater and graywater - PVC piping, and a foot pump.

Redfeather has installed more than 100 stations for Navajo and Hopi families, with several hundred more on a waiting list. According to Seidenberg, they make it easier for families to maintain hygiene, especially during COVID-19.

"We were seeing a lot of folks that would share a common basin that might sit on a kitchen table. They would dip their hands in it - with multiple family members - and this was done out of a necessity of conserving water."

With the new stations, families can wash their hands up to 500 times from one tank of freshwater.

The handwashing stations are made by LavaMaeˣ and were originally developed for the homeless population in the San Fransisco Bay area.

While Redfeather focuses on installing handwashing stations, groups such as Dig Deep and the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief are working to bring clean running water to reservation households.

 

 

KSUT COVID-19 news reporting is made possible by support from individual donors and the Colorado Media Project.