Engineers Without Borders-University of New Hampshire is currently working with San Pedro de Casta, Peru on a water sanitation project. San Pedro de Casta is a rural town in the Andes Mountains of Peru. It is located at roughly 3,200 meters above sea level and is densely centered, although the villagers’ crop fields are scattered across the mountainside. The town itself is home to approximately 1,200 people, consisting primarily of farmers.
Our initial assessment trips showed us that the primary need of the community was a clean drinking water supply. Much of the towns water supply tested positive for total coliforms and E. coli. It was also found that the pipeline delivering the water to the town from their water source was damaged in several locations.
During our trip in May and June 2014, students from SWB-UNH along with the help of some townspeople replaced the entire pipeline with a buried high density polyethylene pipe. Members from EWB-UNH returned in January 2015 on the first official EWB assessment trip. During this trip, data was gathered to determine the most feasible water sanitation project and possible sights were surveyed. More water samples were collected and a volumetric flow meter was also installed to determine the total water usage in the village.
We look forward to our continued relationship with the people of San Pedro de Casta, Peru and hope to reach our goal of implementing a water sanitation system soon!
The project team spent 2015 and 2016 designing a drip chlorination system that would disinfect the water supply by delivering a constant stream of chlorine solution to the water distribution network. A travel team returned to San Pedro de Casta in August of 2016 with the goal of implementing the system and educating the community on its use and maintenance.
Upon arrival to the community, however, the team realized that there had been many changes made to the piping network by regional and national government projects. The new layout of the system was incompatible with the team’s designed drip chlorination system. The community also voiced new concerns about inadequate volumes of water due to a diversion project completed by the national government. It was clear to the travel team that it would not be sustainable or in the best interest of the community to implement the drip chlorination system. Focus for the trip therefore shifted to assessing the community for water supply projects and strengthening community relationships.
The trip was spent gathering data about the current layout of the drinking water piping network. The team visited all of the water sources that service both the drinking and irrigation lines and investigated the causes of failed water supply projects that now clutter and complicate the system.
The team facilitated several meetings with community officials and organized groups within San Pedro de Casta in order to gauge community concerns and interests. A holistic approach to achieving adequate water supply and eventually water sanitation was agreed upon by officials, which included the community president, water superintendent, water and sanitation committee, and school officials. A communication protocol was established to ensure that information between organizations and Students Without Borders remains transparent in the future.
The Peru Program is currently reviewing notes taken from the August trip and is deciding with input from San Pedro de Casta how best to proceed with the program and future projects. Likely, the new project will be a water supply project to address the insufficient quantity of water that reaches the town each day at peak use times. The team would like to travel to San Pedro de Casta in January of 2017 in order to further assess, including taking more quantitative data about the topography of the piping networks and the functionality of the system during the rainy season. The team hopes that taking this time to completely understand the now-complex system, both technically and politically, will yield successful and sustainable projects in the future.
Also on our most recent trip to San Pedro, we were able to provide care and education for school aged children, grades one through twelve, in the town. During our thirty minute presentation on oral hygiene, three hundred toothbrushes were handed out to very excited students. You could feel the enthusiasm as they eagerly waited to pick out their favorite color.
We also ran an educational program on nutrition for the students, grades five and six. In this program the kids were taught about sugar intake and processed food. We created posters for visual aids and encouraged participation by asking questions about the information. Following these programs we left the teachers with lesson plans to continue the education of the children. The goal of both these programs is to improve quality of life throughout the village.
The Peru Project Team would like to extend its thanks to the Emeriti Council, Rosenberg Foundation, EWB-USA, and other sponsors that allow the Peru Program to be possible.