The community of El Convento in rural Honduras currently gets it water from a polluted stream running through the community. A water treatment and distribution system that reaches all members of the El Convento community is needed to improve the health and welfare of the village.
Engineers Without Borders, Lafayette College, (EWB-LC) first traveled to the village of El Convento in 2006 after the community approached the chapter and inquired about a water system. Since 2006, several trips have been made to assess the feasibility of building a system in the village. Water quality data was gathered, land surveying was performed, and an extensive community survey was completed. Data that was gathered was utilized in the design process to craft a system that fits with the profile of the community. EWB-LC broadened ongoing dialogue with El Convento and other partners to include their ideas on the infrastructure and to get feedback on the designs coming from the survey and assessment. In order to make the project more economically sustainable, EWB-LC has assessed the feasibility of a small economic development project in El Convento. The project will utilize the community member’s skills and knowledge to effectively cultivate an economic industry in the community.
What was done
Initial survey data was taken from the community for use in designing a viable spring-fed pipeline option for the water system. In order to give ownership of the project to the residents of El Convento, EWB-LC presented the community with four design options, helping to increase the social sustainability of the project. El Convento set up a governing body for the project, a water board, to oversee all aspects of the project. The water board is responsible for supervising the project implementation and maintenance when EWB-LC is not present. They are the main communication link between EWB-LC and the community. The community also set up an Economic Board, whose main goal is to help coordinate the economic development project to accompany the water system infrastructure.
EWB-LC started implementing the system in El Convento in 2010. Currently, EWB-LC has built much of the upstream pipelines, the water storage tank, and the slow-sand filters . Downstream pipelines to individual houses still need to be added to the system, and the slow-sand filters need to be put on-line. Based on the design that the community selected, EWB-LC is developing manuals to educate the community about the system. These manuals will function as an owner’s guide on how to manage and maintain the system after implementation.
Engineers Without Borders will continue to facilitate a strong relationship with the community in the coming months in preparation for the next trip. Meetings between the community and EWB-LC will help grow the relationship between the two parties.