by QBL’s Project Coordinator, Robert Vincent
[The Condoroca Water Project was partly funded by a gift from the Dickler Foundation. Here is our report to them on the project.]
The project sought to provide 47 families with access to clean water in the village of Putini Condoroca, located in the Pacajes Municipality of Bolivia. We began the project in March 2010, inaugurated the project in December 2010. I received the final report in March 2011 and visited the project in May 2011. This report includes information from the final report and my observations during my visit.
The project, for the most part, was completed as planned. There was one significant change that we dealt with while implementing the project. This proposal was originally submitted to QBL by the Municipal government of Corocoro. The community had requested a water project and the Municipality hired a consultant to develop the proposal. The Municipality then submitted this proposal for QBL funding. QBL did visit the community to research the project before approving it for funding. Unfortunately, we did not do a thorough revision of the number of families included in the original proposal. During our visits to organize the community to work on the project after approving the project, we realized that the original consultant did not include accurate information on the number of families that permanently live in the community. The consultant had included families that had migrated to other parts of the country but returned regularly and had left out six families that lived in the community. Instead of the 47 families included in the original proposal, there were only 31 families that lived permanently in the community and another 16 families that live other areas in Bolivian, but return monthly to attend to their lands. The six families that were not originally included in the proposal required extra funding to provide them with water, which was covered by Municipal funding.
Since then, we have implemented processes that will ensure that we get more accurate information on the number of permanent residents in the communities where we work. I should note that it will always be difficult to get accurate information on the number of families due to the migration patterns in these communities, but we hope to have no more than a 10% variation in future projects.
As I mentioned above, I was able to visit Condoroca in May. It was more of a celebratory visit. Due to Mother’s day activities, there was not as much participation from the community. Those that did participate gave me an affectionate welcome and a gift of a traditional red poncho.
The community did a tremendous amount of work to implement the water project. The principal legs of the water system were long and required a lot of work to dig. Fortunately, they benefitted from a rented tractor to help with this work, but it still required going back and cleaning out the ditches where the piping would be laid. I was overwhelmed with the work that they did to install their water system.
The community was very grateful for the project and proud of the work that they did. One of the common phrases that I heard while visiting this community was that “Before, we drank the same water as our animals. Now we drink clean water like humans should.” They showed me the stream from which they collected water before the project. It was an open stream where they also took their animals to water. With deep gratitude, they said that they no longer have to drink the same water as their animals. Another woman expressed the fact that she no longer had to carry water for two hours a day for her family needs.
I should note that there was one problem that the village is currently trying to resolve. The project committee, a group of three village members elected to lead the project during its implementation, decided to purchase cheaper water faucets from a store that we had not worked with previously. Our staff mentioned that we had not worked with that store before, but the committee decided to purchase them anyway. The faucets worked fine during the summer, but during my visit, the temperature started to get below freezing at night. The freezing temperatures were causing the faucets to break. During my visit, we indicated how the community should protect their faucets from the cold, but ultimately they will probably have to purchase other faucets that are of better quality. The community is responsible for these purchases, but we are providing technical assistance so that they can find better quality faucets and also protect their current faucets from damage caused by freezing.
While I was talking with the community, I mentioned that one of the hardest parts of my job is to express their gratitude to those donors who have helped fund these projects. I lament the fact that I cannot share their kind words with the emotion and gratitude that they express. I understand that this report does not reflect the warmth that they expressed towards me. I do hope that someday donors would be able to visit these communities and see firsthand the changes in the lives of the people and the gratitude that they express as a result.