TINGO PUCARÁ, ECUADOR: WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION
STATUS: Monitoring Phase
Tingo Pucará is an indigenous community in Guangaje, located in the Cotopaxi Province. This is one of the poorest regions in Ecuador, with indicators for poor health, little possibility for income generation, and higher illiteracy rates than in other areas of the country. These factors are especially bad for the indigenous people of the province. In August 2009, this particular community consisted of approximately 30 families (about 150 people) of indigenous Quechua heritage who have inhabited this region for centuries. In September 2010, the population had dropped to 26 families (about 99 people) mainly due to water supply issues.
In the past, the community of Tingo Pucará had sent multiple requests to the municipal authorities for assistance in constructing a water system, but were consistently rejected due to lack of budget or lack of interest from the authorities. Frustrated but well organized, the community members have formed a water board to seek outside help in obtaining an adequate water supply. As a result, their efforts reached Professor Fernando Ortega from the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). Professor Fernando Ortega from USFQ then established communication with the EWB Pittsburgh Professional Chapter through one of his students. In addition to supporting the EWB activities wholeheartedly, the community has demonstrated a strong willingness to do in-country fundraising for their project. Their outreach efforts found favor with the Municipality of Pujili, which is approximately an hour drive from Tingo Pucará. The mayor of Pujili pledged $21,780 in financial support in December 2010, to be used before the end of 2011. Furthermore, Tingo members secured about $10,000 in funding from the Cotopaxi Province utility company to run electricity down to their water source.
Prior to the water pumping system, the community got their water from surface sources or two sources of water from springs they own at the bottom of the mountain. After being collected at the springs, water was carried primarily by women and children back to their houses in open containers. This water was then stored in or outside the house in the same containers without proper disinfection. As a result, diarrhea is the most frequent cause of death in the community; according to data from 2008, the mortality rate is over 30% in children under five. They also have thirteen faucets from a gravity-fed system from Guangaje, which serves more than 500 families in total throughout the region. Those in Tingo Pucará report that it rarely works for more than a few hours per month, however. During the September 2010 house survey, only one faucet had water.
Completed in 2012, a water supply system was implemented in Tingo Pucará. Since then, the system has been in continuous operation without any downtime due to any system failures. The system consists of an intake structure, pump station, and community storage tank. There have been no issues regarding reliability or effectiveness of the system to date. Furthermore, through the fees collected by the community's Water Committee, the electricity required to run the pump has been paid for on a regular basis without issue.
A team returned to Tingo in 2015 to construct two composting latrines. The aim of this project was to educate the residents of Tingo on constructing these latrines themselves, and they have been provided the plans and training to do so. Construction of their own latrines will soon be underway.
The proposed program for Tingo Pucará, the development of a potable water system, is formally apporoved by EWB-USA.
The first Assessment Trip to the community is completed, where the team conducted health assessments, performed water quality testing, and met with local partners.
The second Assessment Trip is completed, where the system concept and exact locations of the structures are finalized with community input.
The third and final Assessment Trip is completed, where additional logistics are finalized and the final design is presented to the local government, who agrees to provide funding for the project.
Construction begins on the intake and pump station on the first Implementation Trip. From here, the community continues construction after the team's departure.
The second Implementation Trip is made, where the team completes construction on the system and successfully tests it.
The team completes a Monitoring Trip to confirm the system is operating well and in working order.
The team returns to construct two latrines and educate the community in how to construct them so they can build one for each home. The water system has been operating for 3 years, needing only routine maintenance.
Craig Johnston, Albert Cheng
Responsible Engineer in Charge (REIC)