Background Information

Bolivia is one of only two land-locked countries in South America.  It lies in the heart of the Andes and is bordered by the countries of Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Chile.  It is   also the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, second only to Haiti.  The life expectancy is only 65 years old and 7 percent of children die before their first birthday.

It is a very diverse country in culture and climate.  In the south and east, it is a tropical environment while in the north and west,it is an alpine desert called the Altiplano.

The community of Tacachia is located in a valley beneath Mt. Illimani which is approximately 18 miles Southeast of Bolivia’s Capital City, La Paz.  Members of the town expressed concern  with the deteriorating road conditions on the south side of the river, and the lack of quality and quantity of potable water.  These issues are compounded during the dry season.  Bridging the orphanage and surrounding community across river would alleviate these problems.

May 2016 Update

Overall, the trip was very successful. The team spent 1.5 days in Tacachia, Bolivia in June of 2016 in order to monitor all of the existing projects and ask each household questions about water use. They found out that, although they were not using the spring water for drinking, they were using it for essentially every other need that they had (including washing clothes, irrigating their crops, bathing, etc.) Their preferred method of drinking water comes from rain water collection and storage. This rain water, alone, was not enough to meet all of their needs. The new water system that we implemented, however, provides enough water to meet, and exceed, their needs, and they are extremely grateful for it. They have had a few pipe leaks here and there, as well as the storage tank was disconnected several months ago; however, with every problem that they had, the water committee was able to fix it, showing their knowledge and desire to maintain the system and overall sustainability of the project.

Summer 2013 Implementation Trip

During the summer of 2013 seven students and two mentors traveled to Tacachia, Bolivia to continue EWB-S&T’s work in the small Andean community. The primary purpose of this eight day trip in July was the building of a cable-suspension bridge across one of the neighboring rivers to hold a water distribution pipeline. Students worked with mentors and the community to see the student-lead design implemented. This involved surveying, re-design calculations, mixing concrete, and much more. The team was able to see the completion of the bridge before departure. The team also assessed previously implemented projects including biosand filters and an erosion control project which began in the summer of 2012. Maintenance was performed on existing ram pumps in the community. In the future the team plans to complete the water distribution system and locate the best possible water source for the community.


Summer 2012 Implementation Trip

During the July 2012 trip, the team worked on a number of projects. The distribution team worked with the community to finish installing the water distribution system and fix any broken parts of the system. Also, the team assessed new potential water sources near the community of Tacachia, which consisted of a spring, a well, or a river. As part of this assessment the team completed some water treatment tests to see how they could improve drinking water quality. The ram pump team worked with community members to test and fix any problems to the previously installed ram pumps. The latrines team collected preliminary information on the future location and implementation of the latrines. The team worked with our in-country partner Engineers in Action (EIA) to implement an erosion control solution, consisting of digging a new path for the river to flow through and using this excavated dirt to armor the riverbanks. This solution will provide protection for the community’s farmland because the river is a cause of a large loss of farmland due to floods and mudflows each year. These improvements directly affect the members of the community and have an indirect positive impact on surrounding communities.


Site Assessment (January and August 2008)

A site assessment was conducted on the river and surrounding land to determine the feasibility of constructing a safe and reliable bridge.

Community leaders expressed concern for Tacachia’s reliance on La Paz for drinking water.  The current rain water collection system is very rudimentary. Constant access to potable drinking water would likely decrease health risks and result in a higher quality of life.  This improvement would directly affect the 120 members of the community and have an indirect positive impact on surrounding communities.


Other Projects

Since the assessment trip in January and a second assessment in August 2008, students on the Tacachia trip have been involved in the design of multiple smaller projects in order to bring developmental change to the community.

The ferrocement tank team has been designing a potable water tank for the community located near the current insufficient tank at the height of the communities elevation.  The design incorporates the current water distribution system into the new tank.

The irrigation team assessed the viability of running water from the river bank up to the upper irrigation canal. They decided to research hydraulic ram pumps because of their ease-of-use and zero-electricity usage.


Summer 2009 Implementation Trip

The Tacachia team had a successful implementation trip in May completing multiple projects intended to bring developmental change to the small community of Tacachia, Bolivia. The Pump team installed a hydraulic ram pump which will provide the com-munity with irrigation water without the use of any electricity. Irrigation team will installed an efficient system that will distribute the water among community members. The Tank team built a ferro-cement tank that works in tandem with the communities current tank. This increased storage capacity for water which was other-wise lost. The Bridge team continued its site assessment and is still working on a design of a footbridge that will connect the two sides of the Rio Beni river. The Health/Water treatment team took and tested samples in order to determine if the river water is treatable for drinking purposes.

These improvements directly affect the 100 members of the community and have an indirect positive impact on surrounding communities.


January 2010 Implementation Trip

Missouri S&T students of the Tacachia, Bolivia team traveled in January, 2010 on what was to be the fourth assessment/implementation trip of the team. In country work consisted of an array of tasks between the Bridge, Ram Pump, and Biosand projects. Bridge team continued assessment of the 800ft foot bridge site and discussed a temporary bridge design with the community. Pump team inspected the installed ram pumps from a prior trip, while further educating the town’s water board and completing a site survey to allow for further implementation of ram pumps.  Installation as well as education of biosand filters both were the primary focus of Biosand team.  Having the community become involved with the set up of a Biosand filter gave the villagers of Tacachia a purification method for their water and an understanding of it.


Summer 2010 Implementation Trip

The S&T team traveled to Tacachia, Bolivia in late July of 2010 to implement three water projects including ram pumps, settling tanks, and biosand filters and to assess a potential new project for erosion control.  A set of 3″ ram pumps were installed to ensure that the community has a consistent year-round flow of river water through their distribution system.  These pumps will bring water to the settling tanks that were implemented during the course of this summer trip.  Water will then travel to the ferrocement water storage tanks and through the distribution system once it is installed in 2011.  In order to prepare for the summer 2011 trip, the team installed galvanized steel under the roads to protect the future water distribution system.  This system will provide water to each household and biosand filter.  Twenty-two biosand filters were implemented at the different homes and the Kory Wawanaca Children’s Home.  The family at each home was heavily involved in the construction and instructed on the proper maintenance of the biosand filter.  The bridge team spent their time surveying the banks and riverbed of the Rio Palca to assess the feasibility of a bridge and also installed two gabion baskets as a test for future erosion prevention methods. The summer 2010 bridge assessment and discussions with the community led the team to discontinue the bridge efforts because of the high cost benefit.  Also, because a new road it to be constructed, lessening the walk to La Paz, the edam decided to concentrate on erosion prevention.  Currently, the erosion control team is in the process of gathering rainy season flood data, with the help of the community, for design of erosion prevention.  Since the summer trip, the Tacachia team has received great news.  The water from each of the filters was tested for fecal coliform, and the results demonstrated that the community had understood the maintenance procedures very well.  The summer 2011 trip will focus on monitoring the  past implemented projects, gathering data for erosion prevention, and the implementation of the water distribution system.

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