From Spring 1994 until Fall 1996 Matthew Lauer served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. He worked in health and sanitation and my primary project was the organization and consruction of several water systems in the community of El Hoyazo.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Dominican Republic: Peace Corps Dominican Republic : Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic: From Spring 1994 until Fall 1996 Matthew Lauer served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. He worked in health and sanitation and my primary project was the organization and consruction of several water systems in the community of El Hoyazo.

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, July 01, 2001 - 2:23 pm: Edit Post

From Spring 1994 until Fall 1996 I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic

From Spring 1994 until Fall 1996 I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic

From Spring 1994 until Fall 1996 I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. I worked in health and sanitation and my primary project was the organization and consruction of several water systems in the community of El Hoyazo (detailed map). In documenting this work I produced a final report, both in English and Spanish. You can also find a pictorial guide of the project here. For a more detailed description of my Peace Corps assignment, see my Description of Service (DOS) document.

The photos below are of a solar pump project I helped to organize in the village of Los Buros in southwestern Dominican Republic.

Water Pump Solar Array

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This report is a summary of the water project initiated by the Comité de Agua de El Hoyazo and PCV Matthew Lauer. Over a period of two years five gravity-flow aqueducts were constructed, providing water to 62 households in El Hoyazo, Province of Santiago, Dominican Republic. This project was achieved by focusing on community development and utilizing appropriate technology with the intent of achieving a sustainable project.

This document was produced to:Water Committee

* be left with the comite as physical documentation of the water project.
* be used as a resource for future Peace Corps volunteers in the Dominican Republic who will set out on the rigorous task of accomplishing a water project in a rural community.

This document has been printed in Spanish and English so that both linguistic communities can have access to the information.

I personally would like to thank Lolo and Bremudez for their inspiration, guidance and support. Without these two community leaders the El Hoyazo Water Project could not have happened. As well, I would like to thank all the community members that participated in the project, because without you, there would have been nothing.

June 1996

Description of the community

Located in the shadow of a 1000 meter high mountain in the lush northernmost mountain range of the Dominican Republic, El Hoyazo has a dramatic setting. Mountain streams crisscross the landscape and have created a myriad of small waterfalls and fern encircled pools. With an elevation of 500 meters El Hoyazo escapes the intense tropical temperatures, and has a mild climate. Tracts of untouched tropical vegetation still exist in some parts adding to the overall beauty. Large groves of mango and orange trees are to be found throughout the area as well as fresh water shrimp and crab in the streams, creating a magnificent natural bounty. In short, El Hoyazo could simply be called a natural paradise.

Nevertheless, El Hoyazo is very isolated. Located at the end of a hair-raisingly steep and winding dirt road, transportation is difficult. Meaning "large hole" in Spanish, El Hoyazo is very appropriately named because of a gaping gorge that must be passed in order to arrive to the community. Only just recently, due to a refurbishment of the road, has the community been accessible by public transportation, but this service is erratic and when it rains ceases to exist. No type of public services exist, with the nearest quality medical help two hours away if there is transportation.

With approximately 120 houses and 575 inhabitants, El Hoyazo is a small community in population although is very dispersed covering a total land area of many square kilometers. The community is divided in seven different sections or sub-communities that are separated by as much as two kilometers from each other, each having a small store, and a water source.

The people of El Hoyazo are primarily subsistence farmers. Slash and burn agriculture is the common farming practice evident from the checkered slopes of the surrounding mountains. Conucos, a Dominican term for a subsistence garden where cassava, bananas, sweet potatoes, and lentils are cultivated, are the focus of the farmers’ labors. Coffee and cocoa are the cash crops. From September through December life becomes much more hectic when the entire community is very busy earning their only source of income for the entire year --harvesting and selling coffee. There are endless daily chores like wood gathering for cooking, clearing new forest for conucos, and one of the most difficult burdens of all, carrying water.

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Project initiation

The water situation in El Hoyazo was very difficult. Similar to most of the Third World, the division of labor in the Dominican Republic dictates that women and their daughters have the burden of carrying water. At least three times a day the women negotiated narrow, slippery paths with cumbersome, four gallon (32 pounds of water) cans on their heads to provide water for their families. Some women traveled up to two kilometers carrying water, and even further in the dry season. Furthermore, the water sources in El Hoyazo are unsanitary. Either the river (obviously unsanitary) or small springs are the sources. The spring water leaves the ground clean, but then enters a pool where water is retrieved and can be easily contaminated by surface water or the errant dirty bucket that is dunked into the pool. These unsanitary water sources contributed to a high incidence of diarrhea and other water-borne diseases in the community.

These difficulties were what prompted the community leaders to initiate a water project. Being members of La Asociación para el Desarrollo de Pedro García (ADPG), an association in the local municipality that has members from surrounding communities, the community members voiced their need for a water project. ADPG had had previous relations with Educadores Unidos del Cibao (EDUDELC) an NGO based out of Santiago that has had many years working with Peace Corps. Working within ADPG and with the help of EDUDELC the community leaders of El Hoyazo solicited a Peace Corps volunteer to facilitate the community water project.

These community leaders formed El Comité de Agua de El Hoyazo with members from each of the seven different sections of the community. It has been with this body that the project was planned and designed. This includes the surveying of the waterlines, decisions on where to put tanks and tap stands, as well as the work plan and budget.

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Community Development

Throughout the project great emphasis was given to social aspects, with the end goal of achieving a project that would be sustainable. In a water project the most important variable in sustainabilty is whether or not the community gives regular maintenance to the aqueducts. With this in mind four areas were focused upon:

* the water committee’s group development.
* the inculcation of a feeling of ownership by the beneficiaries.
* the training of a group of local plumbers.
* the establishment of a monthly quota for the water system’s use.

The social nucleus of the project was the Comité, this was the human infrastructure that allowed the project to happen. Throughout the project, meetings were held every 15 days. Elections were held twice where the Board of Directors was changed, and by-laws were created to insure that the group had a structure to follow in its development. Ultimately, the Comité developed a broader role in the community and renamed itself Asociación Camino Unido de El Hoyazo. This group maintains the responsibility of a water committee, but has also began pursuing other community projects as well.

It was always the Comité's goal to encouraged a feeling of ownership of the system by the beneficiaries, in light of this each beneficiary was responsible for paying an initial hook-up fee as well as donating labor. Furthermore, each beneficiary signed a community agreement that specified that the community is the owner of the water system while stating the regulations of the water system’s use. For each water system a meeting was held where every beneficiary of the water system signed the community agreement.

The responsibility of maintaining the water system is in the hands of a group of voluntary plumbers that were selected to be the caretakers. This group was extensively involved in the construction of the systems, sometimes even maintaining foreman like roles where they were directing work. This group was also given a two day workshop by the volunteer on basic maintenance. The plumbers are under the supervision of the Comité, and must report all problems.

It was recognized by the Comité that a small fund must be maintained through a minimal monthly quota in order to pay for repairs. Therefore, a collection system was developed where a designated person goes to each house at the end of the month and collects the quota. If a beneficiary does not pay the quota, the Comité has the right to cut off their access to the water system.

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Project document

Through a series of meetings the Comité began to understand the water problem in El Hoyazo and the causes. The solutions of the problems were developed with specific objectives and the amount of time to complete them. Below is the document generated by that effort and was used to solicit funds from the donor institutions. The complete document contained a technical description and a geographical description of the community, which are not included here.

Collaborating with the Asociación para el Desarrollo de Pedro García and Educadores Unidos del Cibao, the Comité de Agua de El Hoyazo, founded in August 1994 with 26 members and a Peace Corps volunteer, have organized the construction of five small aqueducts with the general goal of improving health in El Hoyazo.

Problem Definition
According to a study done by the water board, 100% of the population does not have access to potable water.

The principal causes for the lack of access to potable water are:
I. Lack of consciencioness of the importance of potable water
II. Lack of economic resources
III. Lack of technical capacity to build an aqueduct

General objective
Execute a program of education about the importance of potable water and build a five small aqueducts in a period of 50 weeks.

Specific objectives
I. The education of the beneficiaries about the importance of potable water in a period of four weeks.
II. The construction of five small gravity-fed aqueduct in a period of 50 weeks.
III. The technical training of a team from the community that will maintain the aqueduct.

Organization of the work
A team of 36 workers will be responsible for the construction of the aqueduct. Crews of 12 people will work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In this way each worker will only work one day of the week ensuring that the work will be done even during the busiest time of year, the coffee harvest. As well, it has been established by the water board that if a worker does not work in their assigned time, he will have to pay a RD$50.00 fine.

Work Schedule
Activity Estimated time(weeks)
I. Acquire materials 2
II. Education of the beneficiaries about the importance of potable water 4
III. Build the intake structure and conduction line 18
IV. Build the tank 6
V. Build the distribution line and connect taps 20
VI. Instruct a group how to maintain the aqueduct 50
VII. Evaluate the work plan 50
The direct beneficiaries of this project will be 72 families (350 persons) of the community El Hoyazo.

The Comité de Agua de El Hoyazo will evaluate the project plan during its execution and will modify the plan when necessary. The Comité de Agua will evaluate the plan by having meetings every 15 days during the project execution

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Project timetable

Volunteer Initiation to Community & Preparation Work
August 1
• PCV arrives in community

August & September
• Start of formation of Water Committee
• Census started

• Completion of census
• Begin measuring spring flows
• Start of survey

November & December
• Survey finished
• Start basic decision making of system design

• One of the initial five springs dry up
• Re-survey of the dry spring line

Development of Project Document & Solicitation Process
February & March
• Completion of project document
• Completion of detailed budget and design
• Completion of Programa Mundial de Alimentos (PMA) solicitation

March 21
• Meeting with Miguel León (PC), Rafael Cruz(EDUDELC), Matthew Lauer (PCV), William Snow(Canada Fund for Local Initiatives) in Santo Domingo
• Local collection of quota is started
March 27
• Project document is submitted to SPA, PCPP

• Wait in response of institutions
• Continued collection of quota
• Regular meetings
April 20
• Commission sent to PMA

Construction in La Guásara
May 24
• receive SPA check in Santo Domingo RD$ 23,847 for La Guásara
• Sand carried from river
May 30
• Purchase of materials made for La Guásara

June 5
• Start of spring box in La Guásara
June 6
• Truck taken to Santo Domingo to pick up food from PMA
June 12
• Spring box finished
June 19
• Start of tank
June 26
• Tank finished

• Trench work

August 7
• Break pressure box (BPB) built
August 23
• Last tap placed in La Guásara

Construction in Piedra Blanca
August 28
• Start of spring box

September 1
• Finish spring box
September 5
• Receive check from PCPP in Santo Domingo RD$ 45, 758
September 9
• Make material purchase
September 22
• Start of tank

October 11
• Finish tank

November 4
• First BPB built
November 8
• Second BPB built
November 16
• Third BPB built
November 29
• Last tap installed

Construction in El Congo
February 15
• Money from Canada Fund for Local Initiatives deposited with EDUDELC
February 23
• Purchase made for El Congo
February 26
• Start of spring boxes in El Congo Arriba (CA) and El Congo Medio (CM)

March 11
• Spring boxes finished
March 26
• Start of tank CA
March 30
• Start of spring box La Mina

April 3
• Spring box finished La Mina
April 3
• Tank started La Mina
April 15
• Tank finished La Mina
April 17
• Tank finished CA
April 18
• Start tank CM

May 1
• BPB finished CA
May 9
• Tank finished CM
May 13
• BPB #1 in CA installed
May 17
• BPB #2 in CA finished
May 19
• Last tap of La Mina connected
May 21
• Last tap of CA installed
May 27
• BPB #3 finished

June 5
• Installed taps and trench covering
June 11
• Last tap placed in CM

Evaluation & Training

July 6
• Inaguration
July 10
• Plumbers workshop

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Material Costs (all costs are in $RD) ($US1=$RD13.50)
La Guásara 23,889.00
Piedra Blanca 48,643.00
El Congo 80,326.00
Total Material Costs 152,858.00

Labor Costs ($RD)
Unskilled Labor 1,194 days@RD$100/day
La Guásara 24,300.00
Piedra Blanca 35,100.00
El Congo 60,000.00
Skilled Labor 166 days@RD$250/day 32,500.00
Total Labor Costs 151,900.00

Total Material Costs 152,858.00
Total Labor Costs 151,900.00
Total Project Costs 304,758.00

Cost Distribution Pie Chart

Fund raising

The fund raising for the El Hoyazo Water Project was a concerted effort that involved the community, El Comité de Agua, EDUDELC, the Canadian Consulate, and Peace Corps. Over a period of five months the Comité developed a project document and then through a letter writing and commission campaign raised funds for the project. One of the most crucial elements of the fund raising effort was the local fund raising initiative.

The Comité mandated that 10% of the project costs be raised locally. Therefore, the Comité developed a scheme where each tap had a tap stand fee. This fee ranged from $RD206 to $RD411 depending on the water system. This meant that if the tap was private the household benefiting from the tap was responsible for the fee, if the tap was public the households sharing the tap split the costs. Half of the fee was required to be paid before the system was built, and the other half before finishing. In this way the Comité raised RD$14,565.

Donor Institutions Pie Chart

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Food assistance

The Comité de Agua recognized that there would be a need for a large amount of food for the workers during construction. With this in mind the Comité requested food assistance from the El Programa Mundial de Alimentos (PMA). A commission was sent to the PMA office in Santo Domingo and an estimated RD$40,000 of rice, beans, and oil were donated to the project.

The community was responsible for procuring the food which was in a warehouse in Santo Domingo. With the help of an influential community member a dump truck was loaned to the community by Obras Publicas (Public Works) which made the trip to Santo Domingo to procure the 60 sacks of rice, nine sacks of beans and five boxes of oil.

The Comité de Agua was also responsible for the distribution of the food. As indicated by PMA the rations were to be distributed to the workers for each day of work contributed to the project. The Comité developed the system of distributing the food at the end of every week to the workers according to the number of days of work contributed to the project that week.

In order to solicit the food a calculation was made to receive the appropriate amount. Below is the calculation:

Activities Quantity(in units) Days of Work Total
Build the intake structures 25 100
Lay the conduction lines 3.24km =41 405
Build the tanks 25 100
Lay the distribution lines 6.45km 81 807
Connect the taps 47 units=13 131
TOTAL 9.7km/47units 185 1,543 Rations Solicited

Technical overview

After an extensive feasibility study, it became clear because of El Hoyazo’s geographically disperse layout that the most efficient way to provide water to the populous was through five small gravity-flow water systems. Each system has its own spring, holding tank and pipelines.

Spring flows were measured weekly starting in the dry season and were an important part in the design of the system. Coincidentally, January and February of 1995 was one of the most severe droughts experienced in the Dominican Republic’s recent history. This allowed an excellent opportunity to see which of the springs were reliable even through a period of drought. With the spring flow measurements, the amount of water present dictated whether the aqueduct would be built with public or private tap stands.

Appropriate technology was given precedence to hold costs down and keep the systems simple so that local villagers would be able to maintain them with basic training. Ferro-cement holding tanks were built because of there low cost and ease of construction. As well, simple, stone walled spring boxes were built because of there easy reparability and use of locally obtainable materials.

Below are the calculations of demand and available water for each system:

La Guásara
Population: 11 houses or approximately 55 people
Design Population: 55(current pop.) X 40%(the percentage increase for an annual growth rate of 2.3% over 15 years) = 77
Water Demand: 77 people @ 7 gallons/person/day = 539 gal/day
Minimum Source Flow: 0.4 gal/min = 576 gal/day

Piedra Blanca
Population: 19 houses or approximately 100 people
Design Population: 100(current pop.) X 56%(the percentage increase for an annual growth rate of 2.3% over 20 years) = 156
Water Demand: 156 people @ 15 gallons/person/day = 2340 gal/day
Minimum Source Flow: 4.2 gal/min = 6048 gal/day

Congo Arriba
Population: 10 houses or approximately 50 people
Design Population: 50(current pop.) X 40%(the percentage increase for an annual growth rate of 2.3% over 15 years) = 70
Water Demand: 70 people @ 15 gallons/person/day = 1050gal/day
Minimum Source Flow: 0.75 gal/min = 1080 gal/day

Congo Medio
Population: 16 houses or approximately 80 people
Design Population: 80(current pop.) X 56%(the percentage increase for an annual growth rate of 2.3% over 20 years) = 124
Water Demand: 124 people @ 7 gallons/person/day = 868 gal/day
Minimum Source Flow: 0.63 gal/min = 909 gal/day

La Mina
Population: 6 houses or approximately 30 people
Design Population: 30(current pop.) X 56%(the percentage increase for an annual growth rate of 2.3% over 20 years) = 47
Water Demand: 47 people @ 15 gallons/person/day = gal/day
Minimum Source Flow: 1.2 gal/min = 1728 gal/day

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