Organizational and Technical Training of Local Water Committees

  • Environment
  • Water & Sanitation
  • Panama
This project is led by Lydia Medina, a Volunteer from Oklahoma

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The small community has two aqueduct systems that service 93% of the community. There are two Water Committees that organize the maintenance and operation of the systems. One objective of this project is to provide trainings to these Water Committees about organizational, personal, and technical skills needed. This is being done currently with a series of Water Committee Seminars (WCS) developed by Peace Corps. The topics of these sessions will help prepare them for the improvement of different aspects of the aqueducts in their community and will teach them how to better operate and maintain the systems in the future. Several topics in the WCS will encourage organizational skills that can be used in each members’ personal life as well as in other committees in the community. A portion of the training about water and health will be given to all community members and will provide knowledge of certain behaviors that need to be improved in the community, like water storage and conservation of water. Both aqueducts need improvements to better serve the community. Inconsistent and/or poor quality of water supply is common for both systems. Therefore, another objective of this project is to improve the existing systems, so the community members have consistent, potable water. The community is completing all labor required for the rehabilitation. The community has already improved three of the five spring catchment boxes. All labor and cost of materials for these prior improvements were paid for by the community.

The community is motivated to improve the water systems and knows the importance of clean drinking water. Each aqueduct system has its own Water Committee, who are elected individuals of the community that operate and organize maintenance for the aqueducts. In August-September 2019 both Water Committees will be attending Water Committee Seminars held by PCV Lydia Medina to build the capacity of organizational, personal, and technical skills. Non-Committee members have attended several of the seminar sessions, as well. The Water Committee of Aqueduct 1 has applied for their Personaria Juridica in April 2019, which means that they are recognized with the Panamanian Health Agency, MINSA. The Water Committee of Aqueduct 2 does not have Personaria Juridica but cannot apply for it as they only service seven houses currently (the system must service 10 houses to qualify for Personaria Juridica). The community has helped PCV Lydia Medina survey both systems, measure flow rates, organize and participate in workdays, as well as talk through the design process. The Water Committees and community members have already improved three of the five spring catchment boxes. All labor and cost of materials for these prior improvements were paid for by the funds of the Water Committee.

The current Water Committees plan to pass learned technical and organizational skills through trainings to newly elected Water Committees in the future. The community is aware of the importance of consistent maintenance of the water systems for the future and have developed cleaning and maintenance schedules that involve participation of all beneficiaries. A monthly fee for water is required for all beneficiaries to ensure that there is money available for operation and maintenance. The community currently holds activities and plans to continue this practice to raise more funds for future support of the water systems. The required monthly fee and participation of activities creates a sense of ownership for not only the Water Committee, but all beneficiaries of the system.

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