Today is the UN’s World Water Day. An important day to bring attention to the need for clean water around the world. Over 1.2 billion people exist in the world without a safe, sustainable supply of drinking water. Over 80% of preventable illness in the developing world stems from water access and quality. In the Peruvian Amazon the situation is no different. Many children get sick and die because of lack of access to clean water. Many communities get their water directly from rivers, streams, and swamps. And the situation is worsening with the increased industrial development in the region.
Village Earth, through the Peruvian Amazon Indigenous Support Network, is working to bring clean water to communities. Throughout our time working in the Peruvian Amazon, clean water continually comes up as a priority for each community that doesn’t already have a source of clean drinking water. However, getting clean water for communities is more than just installing a well or other type of clean water system. It requires organization in the community so that there is a team that can be trained to maintain the system after any NGO leaves. Also the system must be made of locally available parts that can be easily and cheaply replaced otherwise the system will sit dormant when it breaks down and no one knows how to fix it or can’t find the parts to fix it. First, communities determine the type of water system they want. They also provide all of the manual labor, land, and any materials available for the water system. So far the communities we have worked with have decided upon deep water wells as their preferred system, and so the Peruvian Amazon Support Network works with local well drillers who understand the local situation very well to come up with the most appropriate well designs possible. Then community members elect a water committee who is trained to maintain the system. Through this method of working closely with the community as they lead the process allows us to avoid the problem we have seen all over the world of broken down wells deteriorating in the villages because of inappropriate designs and no consultation or training with the beneficiary community. To bring clean water to a community in the Peruvian Amazon costs around $6000 per system. This includes all costs of any well drilling plus the costs of working with local organizations on training. If you are interested in donating toward bringing clean water to indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon you can donate via the Peruvian Amazon Indigenous Support Network webpage.