Friday, May 11, 2012

La Pita - Still working, 5 years later

A few months ago, El Porvenir had the opportunity to visit La Pita, Terrabona. In 2007, thanks to our supporters at Create Good Foundation and Global Water, El Porvenir worked with the community as they built their gravity flow water system and household latrines. We wanted to go back and see how things were holding up five years later. (This story was also featured in more detail in our recent newsletter.)

Staff interviewed Victoria Hernández in her one room brick home. She told El Porvenir how life was before they had water and latrines in their homes. Victoria used to walk 2km (1.25 miles) to a creek to collect water to carry home. They used to wait in line for some time and the water was contaminated, often by the community members themselves, as they did not have sanitation facilities. The contamination led to illness, usually diarrhea and/or parasites.  

"I had two miscarriages because I had to carry water from far away, carrying one bucket on my head and one on my hip. Many children got sick during that time; some died." - Victoria Hernández

Victoria proudly shows off the water spigot in her yard.
Now, things are much different. Victoria has water just outside her door and a latrine nearby. The families are healthly, the women have more time available and their lives are improved. Victoria's husband works as a day laborer and Victoria had time now to open a small store in their home. The family earns $6/day —much higher than the average of rural Nicaraguans: $1-2/day.

"We have more savings because we don’t have to spend our money on medicine." - Victoria Hernández

Victoria also happens to be the Treasurer on the local Potable Water Committee. She collects all the families monthly fees and reports back to the community and their collective maintenance fund. She reported to El Porvenir that the committee has c$12,000 saved (about $520US).

Victoria shows us how she washes at her house.
"We thank the donors that supported us in the latrine and water system projects.  Always we will care for it; we will not let it fail." - Victoria Hernández

People like Victoria are what inspire us to continue our work to provide clean water and sanition to people in Nicaragua. We are working towards long lasting solutions that empower the people we work with. There is more to be done, can you help? Consider a gift to Rob's birthday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The rope pump, a local solution

New year, new post. Here at El Porvenir, we wish you a Happy New Year!

Well and rope pump in Puente Ocho, Sauce, Nicaragua, photo credit: Nile Sprague

El Porvenir is well-known (where we work in Nicaragua at least) for its hand-dug wells. Even on the machine drilled wells, however, we use the rope pump - the standard for water pumping in rural Nicaragua.

Rope pump in Tule Oriental, Camoapa, Nicaragua, example of a machine drilled well.

The rope pump was invented by the Chinese thousands of years ago. Local stories say that the Nicaraguan version of the rope pump was invented by a Belgian technician, Jan Haemhouts, with Nicaraguan campesinos in the early 1980s. The rope pump caught on widely in Nicaragua and is the standard, as mentioned above. The rope pump technology has been exported to India and Africa as well.

What is the rope pump? From "The Rope pump consists of a wheel that pulls up an endless rope with cone shaped high precision washers that pass through a PVC pump tube, in this way lifting the water." A picture is worth a thousand words, so this diagram may help:

Rope pumps are basically a bicycle wheel with a crank. Photo credit: Nile Sprague

Data from a few years ago showed more than 70,000 rope pumps installed in Nicaragua. Why did it catch on so well? The technology is fairly simple in concept and in fabrication. Thus it is easy to understand and repair. It is cheaper than most handpumps in terms of upfront costs and maintenance. In Nicaragua particularly -since it is our local standard - it is easy to find someone in a community or a nearby community that can repair a rope pump if something needs fixing.

12 year old boy repairing rope pump, photo credit: Lynn Gleason

For El Porvenir, it is part of the sustainability of our projects into the long term. We make sure the people install the rope pump with our staff so they know how to fix it. Parts are available in each rural town. Let us know what you think.

Further reading: