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Bolivia is one of only two landlocked countries in South America. It is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. The life expectancy is only 65 years old and 7 percent of children die before their first birthday. The village of Inka Katurapi is located in the Altiplano. The people of the Altiplano are largely indigenous and uneducated. Thus the Altiplano is by far the poorest region of the country. The infant mortality rate of the Altiplano soars to 20 percent. It is the goal of UMR-Missouri S&T to partner with the village of Inka Katurapi to lower these shocking statistics and provide a much higher quality living environment for the people of the village.
A team of 11 students, 2 faculty member, and 2 professional engineers traveled to Inka Katurapi in the summer of 2006. While there they worked with the people of the village to construct a composting latrine which was the first sanitation control in the village. A landslide investigation was also conducted to obtain data for the irrigation system in the village. Soil samples were taken and GPS units were used to make topographical maps of the area. With this information we believe we can derive an economical solution to the slope stability problem.
Another group of 15 students from the UMR-Missouri S&T is planning on continuing the partnership with Bolivia by making a return trip in the summer of 2007. Currently there are three different parts to the Inka Katurapi Trip. The first part is a landslide investigation. We do not have enough information to derive an adequate plan for a problem of this size. We are coming up with a map of the town and labeling the zones where the most damage will occur if a large landslide occurs again. The second part is the latrine building. We have basic designs but need to scale them down to fit a family of 6. The latrines will be composting; therefore the waste will be self contained and safe when removed after a period of time. We plan to build 3 latrines while in-country and provide funding for more materials. The last part of the project is to investigate the well water being used in the village. Currently the system being used is not utilized properly. The water has signs bacteria and coliforms. There have only been a few basic water tests run, but we plan to take more equipment to measure the well. The water will also be filters and coliform tests will be run when in country. With this new information we believe we can find how the well is being misused and possibly find a simple inexpensive plan to better the drinking condition of the water.
The teams going to Bolivia and Honduras have been working on testing for coliforms in water. The testing is being performed to determine how well the gel solutions work under different environmental conditions. The group from Honduras just got back from their trip over spring break, where they used the new gels to test the well water for a village. The climate in Rio Colorado, Bolivia will be favorable for the bacteria to grow, but at 12,000 ft. above sea level in Inka Katurapi the air is dry and cool. According to the test results run in a cool environment, we will need to incubate the gels to obtain accurate results. Plans have been drawn to make an incubator from large coolers, using hot water and a coil system to warm the air. These will be transported with checked bagage for the trip to and from Bolivia. With these incubators we are confident in the test results and feel the information will be accurate.