Report from the Sojata water project

We have received this insight on our project workings from Robert Vincent, Projects Coordinator.

I was looking over a recent report from Bolivia and thought you’d be interested to read of some of QBL’s  inner workings after we approve a project.

In August we received a project proposal from a community called Sojata (pronounced “Sohata”) to fund hand pumps for 23 families plus a small gravity-fed system for another five families. This community is two and a half hours from La Paz, in a valley just a hill or two from Lake Titicaca. They have had always received me with great warmth the two or three times that I have visited.

The US board approved this project in September and sent funding to Bolivia at the beginning of October.

On October 13, one of our staff members, Sandra, took the approval letter to the community. 26 of the 28 families were there to hear the good news. When I have made similar visits, they have greeted me with the communal meal called the ap’tapi , together with celebratory hugs all around.  After the celebration the hard work begins.

Sandra explained the next steps to the community. They should elect three people to form a project committee. This committee accompanies our staff to buy supplies – cement, pipes, faucets, pumps. The communities and QBL find that this is the best way to make the purchase process transparent for each project. The committee is also in charge of organizing the work schedule in the community. This is a lot of responsibility. This task can be challenging for some, but I have also seen committee members moved to tears by what they have been able to accomplish together. The community opens a savings account. Families make regular payments into this sustainability account to address any future maintenance. After the project is finished, the Sojata community will have to decide how much to pay each month into their account—other communities have contributed 2-5 Bolivianos, (30-75 cents or 20-50p) a month per family. They want their project to last for years to come, and our supporters want to know that they are giving for the long term.

After the community meeting Sandra wrote in her report that “The families are happy to know that their pump project was approved and thanked QBL for our support. One can see the commitment of the families to fulfill the responsibilities that were assigned.”

I am looking forward to hearing how this community fares. They will now begin the arduous work of sinking 10 foot (3 metres) wells by hand, digging ditches and working together (sometimes through conflict!).  They are hoping to inaugurate the project on March 30th. Let’s hope that we can all celebrate a successful project on that day and see smiling proud faces.

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