April 5, 2003 - Personal Web Site: We explored a new water project with Peace Corps volunteer Debbie for feasibility

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We explored a new water project with Peace Corps volunteer Debbie for feasibility

We explored a new water project with Peace Corps volunteer Debbie for feasibility

We return to Bolivia! Trip '99

by Peter Weed

Last year John McLaughlin described the Bolivian scenery as "mind blowing", and judging by the expression on Art Mandler's face that must be true!

This year, NC Water for People sent a work team to further the progress set in motion by the previous four. Old friendships were renewed and new areas explored. This photo taken on top of the 150-foot concrete water storage tower at Portachuelo, just outside Montero. The town of 2000 people was visited last year and is an excellent example of community effort to promote water quality, good hygiene and wastewater treatment.

Members of this year's team included Lars Balck, P.E.; his son Eric Balck, student; Art Mandler, MIS Director for the Metropolitan Sewerage District; David Martin, student and river-rafting guide; and Peter Weed, NC WFP Treasurer.

Between August 7 and 21, we traveled from the air sucking heights of Puerto Acosta (14,000 ft), to the foothills of Cochabama (8,000 ft), and then on down to the plains of Montero (2,500 ft). For its size, Bolivia must have one of the most diverse topographies of any country. In the municipality of Puerto Acosta, we surveyed a proposed water system for the village of Kellisa.

This little community of 38 families is typical for the Altiplano. It is "high and dry" nine months a year making the life for farmers and small ranchers an uphill struggle all the time. When you reach places like Kellisa and note the tenacity at which rural people of Bolivia hang on to life, you realize why Water for People exists. Fresh, clean safe water is not something to take lightly here. However, like for many people in the world it can be out of reach. It may take awhile before project design, Municipal funding and actual construction all come about for this small community. Still, in a small way Water for People has been able to advance progress here as it has in many other areas of our world.

Andean Rural Health Care (ARHC) and their Bolivian counterpart, Consejo de Salud Rural Andino (CSRA), provided most of our travel arrangements within Bolivia. Their health care system is outlined in the '98 trip report and they deserve high praise for their efforts to bring about sustainable change. We visited CSRA clinics in Ancoraimes, Carabuco, Quiescapa, Puerto Acosta, La Paz and Montero. In every location, we were extremely impressed with the quality of staff, levels of commitment and the incorporating of water quality issues with health care. Obviously, that is why we make such good partners.

Newlyweds, Susana Southerwood and Abraham Aruquipa, joined our group in La Paz. Their expertise in both language and placing things in a context we would understand was invaluable. We explored a new water project with Peace Corps volunteer Debbie for feasibility; reviewed two years of hard work from Peace Corps volunteer Matt Scholler (a highly respected man we met last year); rambled over ideas for new software developments for ARHC/CSRA with Director Nathan Robison; established new friendships with Peace Corps Director for Bolivia, Tim McFarren; inaugurated a new water system outside Cochabamba (what a party!!!); inspected the first (and quite successful) upflow reactor for wastewater treatment in Bolivia; toured the University of Cochabamba seeing the latest in solar low cost disinfection for rural areas; visited numerous water co-ops; solved a variety of computer problems along the way; tried to incorporate the Bolivian way of looking at things (tell us what you need and we'll tell you how to do without it!); and saw some of the best looking brick outhouses (with attached showers) that we have ever seen.

This Spring, NC WFP provided $4,500 in funding for latrine and shower construction in Villa Cochabamba (just on the edge of Montero). Within three months, CSRA constructed fourteen brick latrine and shower structures. Five more units were scheduled for construction in the following two weeks. Homeowners pay for their units over a three-year period making the program self-sustaining. The problem however is that with initial funding nearly exhausted, the construction rate will slow down. Presently, sixty families have applied for units. If additional funding can be provided, construction might be brought up to balance the rate of replenishing funds and with the growth of the community.

In Montero, NC WFP has supplied water co-ops with chlorinating pumps. We hand delivered the last batch bringing the total to eighteen pumps within the last ten months. Valued at $900 to $1500 in Bolivia, these pumps have had a significant effect in raising the water quality for hundreds and hundreds of people, reducing the financial burden of many water co-operatives as well. Thanks to the direct assistance of CSRA in Montero, especially Dr. Dardo Chavez, Juan Carlos Guarabia, and Mirtha Sanjines, this is one of NC WFP most beneficial programs.

Enjoy more pictures of our trip

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Bolivia; Water Projects



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