Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Successes come in pairs

Check out more pictures from this trip and past trips at:

Our January trip to Ecuador ended up being as successful as I could have possibly imagined. We finished installing nine rainwater tanks in La Encañada. An example is shown to the left. They consist of a bamboo gutter, a covered 550 liter plastic water tank on a platform, and the necessary hosing and adapters to deliver that water to the bathroom toilet and sink and a kitchen tap. We installed these systems over the course of six days of community work and for under $1,000 total budget.

We made laminated versions of these signs and put them up in every household to remind them how to maintain their rainwater tanks, how to use the secure 8 liter drinking water storage containers we provided, and how to dose each of them with the right amount of chlorine to have 100% safe drinking water.

On the last tuesday before we left, we went to the mayor of the Mera Municipality, which includes both La Encañada and Santa Ana, and presented a report on the work we had done. Basilio later reported that he felt the mayor was floored by the document, and he promised to provide all of the materials should they want to do such an installation in another community. I think he probably will too, since it is such a great deal for him -- give around $1000 worth of supplies (a fraction of the usual tens of thousands of dollar infrastructure projects they deal with) and have a community feel like the mayor has really done something substantial. It's a great deal for us too: the Santa Ana technical team gets all of the expensive supplies paid for, and Sacha Yaku only has to provide a small amount of administrative funds and pay for the time put in by the technical team -- expenses that the municipality is not willing to or able to make.

The technical team in Santa Ana is already getting requests for water quality testing, hygiene and health workshops, and rainwater tank installations. They are working on a proposal right now for a small community that sits in between La Encañada and Santa Ana called Chinchayaku. Although one never can tell with these things, the mayor is in office until April and wants to make communities happy in order to get re-elected, so I think it is quite likely that this project will go through!

And all of that is merely the first of our pair of successes. The other success is in Santa Ana. Not only do they continue to have water all day everyday, but we also manage to close off that pesky channel the water was escaping through in the river intake. What took us weeks during the first summer in Santa Ana (2006), took us three days this time. And it is a good thing it only took three days, because three days was all we had! We literally poured cement on Wednesday, came back to Santa Ana for the traditional 'despedida' or goodbye party, and then left at 6am on Thursday morning. Here are some photos of the operation:

(Hauling rocks and sand through a swamp and up a hill to the river intake. Men and women worked together to carry several cubic meters of material up the hill for this wall.)

(The temporary dam of sticks and plastic we built in order to have a dry place to build a concrete wall)(The construction scene)

(Jesus Moya finishes off the concrete wall)

So Santa Ana has clean drinking water, so does La Encañada, and we hope that it is only a matter of weeks before Chinchayaku does as well. Not bad for one trip.

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