On Wednesday, Jose Jorge brought Paul and Oliver (Dan’s younger brother) to a village of the Asháninka, an indigenous group, to learn about the water situation in their community. The community grows and harvests coffee for Chanchamayo Highland Coffee and Jose knew from his relationship with the group that they needed help with their water.
The village leaders brought Paul and Oliver on a walk to show them how the community gathers water. A little ways up the mountain, amongst a thicket of bushes and trees, a small stream trickles down the mountain. As the water flows downward, it is collected by pipes that are buried in the ground. The water flows from the pipes into a small concrete tank where it passes through another tube and into another adjacent basin. The flow of water between these two basins is controlled by a value. From this collection tank, the water is sent down the mountain through pipes to a large concrete reservoir that measures 3m x 3m x 3m. From this reservoir, the water is piped to one of the fourteen facets around the village. The two main water spigots are constructed from thin PVC pipes and are located near the center of the village. One is completely exposed; the other is shaded by a little thatched roof. (The entire community is constructed in a similar manner – the people live in small wooden bungalows with thatched roofs scattered about the area.) This collection method is fairly effective for gathering the water that the community needs; however, the water does not go through any type of filtering process. It's consumed straight from the facets and is causing the children and adults to get sick. After testing the water, Paul and Oliver were able to determine that the water is full of bacteria and other viruses.
I was in Lima with the rest of the Reach Peru team when Paul and Oliver visited the community. They told us about the community’s water situation so we were able to buy simple carbon mineral filters to help improve the water immediately. I brought these filters with me on my return journey to the jungle on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, Paul, Oliver, a water engineer, and I headed back to the community to install the filters. The community greeted us warmly and invited us to sit down and make ourselves comfortable while we waited for everyone to gather together. As people started trickling over to the gathering area, the tribe leaders sang and played a song on their drums and everyone started clapping along in rhythm together.
When everyone had gathered together, Oliver lead a question and answer session about water and also explained some important information about water cleanliness and hygiene. In the meantime, Paul and the water engineer headed up the mountain to look at the water reservoirs and make plans for building more effective water filters in the long term.
After the Q&A session, Paul and Oliver, along with the help of the some of the leaders and the children, installed filters on the two main water sources in the community. These water filters will remove any bad bacteria or viruses in the water. (I filled my water bottle and drank the water and haven’t fallen sick yet, so I can say that the water is up to par with my weak stomach!)
We will return to the community later this week to check the progress of the filters. Then we can begin making more solid plans for the construction of a large bio-sand filter that will be able to clean all the water for the community.