The community of Asanquiri is located in the highlands of Bolivia. Young adults from this village and others are taught at the Centro de Capacitación Técnica y Formación Integral Asanquiri (CECTFIA). CECTFIA is a local NGO that reaches out to 28 communities in northern Potosí, focusing on reducing child nutrition. CECTFIA also hosts an agriculatural school in Asanquiri, where the students live and take classes to teach them responsible agricultural practices and other skills to improve their livelihood, all while maintaining the local Andean culture.
Due to the seasonal cycle of rainfall that occurs in this region, the school often runs dangerously low on water during the dry season. The only source of water is a spring, which is also seasonal. The spring box is also open and unguarded, which allows animals to trample and defecate in the spring. Diarrhea is a common problem for children at the Capacitation Center, and the cause most likely comes from bacteria found in the water.
To supplement the strained water supply, a new water source must be obtained. In addition, this water source and the existing water source must be cleaned to reduce the number of cases of waterborne illnesses.
The EWB-USA Response
Five members from the NCSU chapter traveled to Asanquiri in January 2007. During their time in Bolivia, the team visited Asanquiri, the Capacitation Center, and several other villages that surround the Center. The need for some improvement was the greatest at the Capacitation Center, so the focus of the project was shifted from the village to the learning center. The team took water samples at the various tanks, at spigots, and at the spring. A health assessment revealed diarrhea being the main health issue.
Four different NCSU members and one adviser traveled to Asanquiri in August 2009. Upon arrival the community made it clear that water quantity is the biggest issue. In response, the team focused its energy and resources on making a larger 5000L rain harvesting system, rather than water sanitation. The team used only local services and products to implement the project making it sustainable.
One advisor and three NCSU members traveled back to Asanquiri in May 2011. The team evaluated the existing rainwater catchment system. The team collected data about the system and surrounding area and determined that stored water quantity was still the primary goal.
A second implementation trip in summer 2012 will install a second rainwater harvesting system similar to the one installed in 2009. The harvesting system will catch water from a different area to optimize water quantity. The team will also potentially develop a spring to transport the water to CECTFIA.
Providing the Capacitation Center with water collection and treatment systems will give tangible and intangible benefits to the community, directly improving the quality and quantity of potable water at the Capacitation Center while also familiarizing center students with reproducible technology that can be implemented in their homes and other regions. Potential expansion of work into the nearby area of Santiago with irrigation systems will also be evaluated in-region.
To bolster this effort we will foster an open dialogue with the community about the operation and prevalence of usage of such water systems while taking advantage of the in-region commitment and resources of the Capacitation Center to provide ongoing support that lasts beyond the end of the assessment trip.