Water projects

Water is such a fundamental need, we have made it our priority to install water projects and ensure that they are functioning properly.

The Need

A young girl from the village of Vilaque showing how she collects water.

A young girl from the village of Vilaque showing how she collects water.

Many villages on the Altiplano still lack access to clean water. Families will often get their water from open wells or nearby streams and often spend up to 30-45 minutes every day fetching water for their daily needs.

The water is not usually fit for consumption and can cause problems such as diarrhea. This is especially problematic for young children. The lack of sufficient water can also cause problems such as skin rashes.

Having access to clean water is vital for healthy families and communities.

The Solution

QBL partners with villages and local governments to provide clean water to each home. The local government usually provides 30% of the total cost, a good indication that it is a project that the local village wants. Our water projects usually take three different forms:


  • Gravity fed systems: The village identifies nearby springs in the surrounding hills as a water source. We capture this water and pipe it to a storage tank, where it is then distributed to the surrounding homes. This is the easiest system and requires the least amount of maintenance and operating costs over the life of the system.
  • Hand pumps: Sometimes it is just not possible to efficiently use nearby springs. Fortunately the Altiplano has a shallow water table which is perfect for hand pumps. The villagers dig their individual wells, usually averaging 5-10 meters (15-30 feet) deep. QBL and local government funding provides the hand pumps to each villager.
  • Electrical Pumps: When neither gravity fed systems or hand pumps are feasible, we will install an electrical pump which supplies water to a storage tank to be distributed to the village homes. Due to the cost of the pump and digging the deeper well, we usually partner with other aid agencies to cover those costs. We have recently partnered with the Germain aid agency GTZ to supply water to two communities with this sort of system.

With each project, we train the families in hygiene, how to properly use and store water, and how to maintain their new water systems. We pay special attention to working with the children, working with the school to provide special training for them. Each child receives a hygiene kit, which includes a bar of soap, tooth paste, tooth brush, wash cloth and other small items that will encourage the children start these healthy habits as soon as they can.

Since the community is doing most of the work, they learn how to fix problems that might occur. We also work with each village to set up guidelines for dealing with conflicts and how to use the system appropriately. These guidelines are developed and approve in community assemblies, ensuring broad support.

Sustainability

Our hope is that these projects will last 30 years. To work towards a long-term impact, we ask each community to take responsibility for the long-term sustainability of their project.

  • A water committee is democratically elected by the community and is responsible for maintaining the system.
  • Each villager contributes a small monthly amount to the community “sustainability fund.” This fund covers regular maintenance needs when they arise.

QBL commits to visiting the community regularly to ensure that the water system is functioning properly. We provide any technical help that they may need. After three or four years, we do a thorough evaluation to review how the water committee is working, how the water system if functioning and measure the impact that the water system has had village health.

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