For those of you just tuning in, we held a fundraiser in May to build a water system in the rural community of San Martín, located in the coffee-producing zone of San Ramón. This system is intended to provide water for 86 families that were given land titles as part of a government settlement program.
We’ve spent the past few months working with community leaders and talking to landowners to decide on the water sources that will supply the system. Fortunately for San Martín, there were a couple of different options of natural springs in the area- some with more water, some closer to the community, some more accessible. But the most important factor came down to which landowner would be willing to give the water rights over to the community.
That’s where Eddy Chavarria comes in. Eddy’s farm abuts the community of San Martín, and on his property there is a spring that produces enough water to satisfy the consumption needs of the nearby families. We traveled out to meet Eddy to discuss the use of this spring for the project. We were a little wary at first, because a lot of people would see a foreign non-profit building a water system as an opportunity to sell their spring at the highest possible price. Not Eddy. He offered to donate the spring to the community. The only thing he asked in return was a commitment from the beneficiaries to protect the surrounding forest by not cutting trees down and planting more around the spring.
Obviously, we were elated! But of course, now the hardest part begins: raising awareness in the community about their role in protecting the water source, and training the Water Committee in meter reading, bookkeeping, etc., so that the system can be maintained for years to come. This is perhaps the most crucial step, because the commitment of the community and the Water Committee will determine how long the system will last. We’ll be working with local engineers with years of experience in rural Water Committees to lead these trainings. We’ll also be inviting members of our local Advisory Committee who serve on Water Committees in their own communities to come and share their experiences, knowledge, and past mistakes. More about this in our next update!
In the meantime, we’ve also secured a small well that is on government-owned land to build a washing station. This water is not apt for consumption, but can be used for clothes washing. It will serve to offset the demand on the larger water system, which will be used for cooking and drinking. We hope to begin construction on this washing station before the end of this year.
Stay tuned for more updates! If you’d like more information, please contact us!