The project being proposed by the community in conjunction with PCV Rebecca Kaufman is a gravity-fed aqueduct. Access to clean water is the largest barrier to the adoption of healthier behaviors as they relate to hygiene and sanitation. The development of a spring source and implementation of a water system would greatly improve the quality of life and health in the community. Not only would greater accessibility facilitate the adoption of key behaviors, but also improve equity. Currently women and young girls are the main demographic making regular, time-intensive, trips to retrieve water from their current source. This significantly undermines participation in community activities, studying, participation in wage-labor, and going to school. The community has been studying and excavating the water source for almost a year and is ready to begin construction. The main activities in this project will be construction of a spring-catchment box to protect the water source, a transmission line, and a reserve tank. This project will meet the objectives of improving community members’ access to clean water and building the technical capacity of the community’s water committee.
In 2017, the community discovered a potential spring water source, about 1.2km away from its center. Wanting to develop this project, they solicited a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (W.A.S.H.) Sector. Since the arrival of PCV Rebecca Kaufman, the community has worked to obtain official legal recognition through the Ministry of Health, done a month of trainings building their organizational and technical capacity, and attended regular work days and meetings to set objectives, develop the source, and survey the land from the source to the community. The community is committed to the project and only lacks the funds to buy materials to complete it. They have worked with PCV Rebecca Kaufman to develop a timeline for the project.
Water Committee Training and Monitoring: PCV Rebecca Kaufman is currently working closely with the water committee to put into practice the theory learned in the Water Committee Seminars completed in April 2019. Currently, the water committee President and Secretary have begun training community members on water storage and sanitation best practices in informal settings. In the future, they have proposed co-facilitating more formal, community wide, seminars on applicable topics. PCV Rebecca Kaufman will continue to work one-on-one with water committee members to help master topics they found difficult to grasp. Ultimately, these acquisition and constant application and practice of both technical, and managerial skills will ensure a well monitored and maintained aqueduct after the project’s completion.
Agency Involvement: MINSA and INADEH are permanent fixtures in the Panamanian government and will serve as valuable future resources for community members in future situations where the technical resources that exist within their community can’t meet their needs. In May 2019, PCV Rebecca Kaufman met with MINSA officials to introduce them to the community and the basic aspects of the project they are working on. PCV Rebecca Kaufman has also been in contact with local MINSA and INADEH technicians. The technician has promised to offer his services to to support technical and construction needs. PCV Rebecca Kaufman is currently working with community members to organize a day when these technicians can come to the community to familiarize themselves with the project. Local MiAmbiente, INADEH, and MINSA offices will be given a Spanish version of this report to ensure their familiarity with the project.