I did a lot of traveling within Colombia during the month of October. Starting in Santander some Rotarians took me to visit a “Rotary” project where they have used CAPD molds to build and supply 250 families with filters.
Water supply in rural areas is precarious and this “manifold” allows water to be shared among 70 hoses that run for kilometers over the ground to the various farms.
As a CAPD volunteer I try to visit any filter project to offer guidance and encouragement and possibly plan a follow-on project.
After a 6 hour bus ride over twisting mountain roads, I came to Tunja in the state of Boyaca. This city is very high and very cold at night and with intense sun during the day. Here I spent time with Ivan and Rocio. Their Foundation RPG is collaborating with CAPD and they have built and installed 102 filters in the altiplano where the rural folk exist between selling milk and growing potatoes.
Ivan and Rocio have installed two filters n a rural school where it has good visibility.
School filters and talks to school children are important for keeping families using their filters properly and washing their hands with soap – all those little people reminding their parents how to do things properly!
I spent some time with Ivan and Rocio in Bogota investigating alternatives to the concrete version of the Biosand filter but that will be a separate Blog. A visit to Parex Resources, a highly successful Canadian (not so junior) oil company, was also very encouraging. I’ll expand on that when we have something more definite.
More bus riding to a city called Ibague, on the edge of the coffee zone. Lots of mountains and valleys! Many neighbourhoods on the edge of this city of 600,000 rely on rural water systems, organized as a kind of a cooperative which finds water up the mountain and pipes it into the homes, without any possibility of treating it. Each family pays a monthly fee for service, sometimes based on consumption. During rainy periods the water comes out of the tap the colour of tea or worse and the bacteria count is way too high. This is a typical peri-urban neighbourhood in Ibague and the water comes from “up there”.
There are many of these rural water cooperatives serving neighbourhoods on the periphery of Ibague and apparently more than 12,000 in the nation. The Rotary Club of Nuevo Ibague is using Rotary funding to serve 370 families with filters and training in maintenance and hygiene. They are using 6 molds on loan from CAPD. Their “product” has great quality thanks to Mario, who is a stickler for quality – zero leaks!!!
This club is extremely well organized and despite the workload the Rotarians are really enthusiastic. I attended some sensitization sessions with them and was impressed with their dedication.
Later, they treated me to a unique experience – lunch with a bunch of farmers who were displaced by armed groups more than 20 years ago. The 15 families have made what appears to be a successful transition and now have their own land and are prospering. I was very impressed with their positive forward looking attitude and ability to articulate this. The ladies who provided lunch were also very interested in what we had to say.
By good fortune they connected with the Rotarians and now have filters as well. The challenge for CAPD is to keep these experienced groups functioning even after the Rotary funding has been spent. Your donations to CAPD help these enthusiastic teams continue to serve needy people.
Next stop on the tour was Monteria near the Caribbean coast. The club of Monteria 2 has been working with CAPD and filters for almost 5 years and has helped more than 2,000 families with safe water.
CAPD has funded about half of the filters with the other half of the funds coming from municipalities. We are trying to encourage more of this approach. The Rotarians took me on an inspection trip to visit a zone formerly famous for its insecurity but thankfully a lot safer now – called Montes de Maria.
This agricultural area is very fertile and very lovely but tough to access via clay mountain roads that are okay for motorcycles but tough on trucks and impossible when it rains which happens frequently. The project is fully financed by a large rural development project and is well advanced. Sr. Juan has built most of the thousands of filters and does a good job. Fabiola and Juan pose in front of some of the 16 CAPD molds.
Here are some more Rotarians visiting the work site for the weekly inspection.
We have more irons in the fire but that will have to wait for another Blog. After a month on the road I was very happy to be reunited with Marlene in Bucaramanga.