Tambanal and Ayaloma are two neighboring communities located in the Andes mountains of south-central Ecuador, located 15 minutes away from Chillanes. Tambanal extends up to an elevation of 2,300 meters (7,500 feet) while the lowest portions of the community are in Ayaloma at approximately 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) above sea level. Roads into the community are unimproved and are subject to mudslides, especially after the rainy season. Most of the community members are agricultural producers and ranchers. In 1963, the local government installed a water capture system, storage tank, and piping system. Currently, the system is mostly too damaged to use and the system has fallen into disrepair. As a result, many individuals carry water in 10-liter containers uphill from surface level water that reportedly dries up during the summer. The result of this is a number of preventable water born diseases that lead to reduced quality of life, reduced life span, and have a tragic impact on infant and child mortality. At the moment, the damaged water system only provides water to one family and the school of Tambanal, but not the school of Ayaloma. Further, the water from the current system is reportedly not treated in any way causing health problems, especially among young children, similiar to the surface level water.
The communities first reached out to EWB Pitt in August of 2021, with the project approved on September 27th, 2021. The communities requested the help of our chapter in designing and constructing a water collection, conveyance, distribution, and storage system. Since then, we have established and maintained contact with the communities themselves, their leadership, a communal water board, the NGO Institutos Ecologistas and the municipal government of Chillanes.
In the Summer of 2022, EWB at Pitt partnered with the Pittsburgh Professional Chapter (PPC) of EWB to collaborate together on this project. The student chapter now finds itself in the pre-assessment phase of this project, and is working alongside the PPC of EWB with Institutos Ecologistas to conduct preliminary water testing and capture photo/video of key sites.
The water board, though it has only been in existence for one year of operation, is already legally formed due to the NGO and is making strides in expense reporting and quality management procedures that will help make for a smooth and sustainable collaboration. Approximately 150 people spread through more than 35 homes will be directly impacted by this project.