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, similar 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, treatment, 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 Spring of 2022, EWB Pitt partnered with the Pittsburgh Professional Chapter (PPC) of EWB to collaborate together on this project. The teams have worked jointly since, coordinating with our in-country partner Institutos Ecologistas to conduct preliminary water testing and capture photo/video of key sites. In December or 2022, a team of five PPC members and three EWB Pitt members travel to Tambanal and Ayaloma on an assessment trip to collected technical, public health data, and build our relationships with our in-country partners.
The Tambanal-Ayaloma Water Board is legally recognized by the Ecuadorian government and was formed with the assistance of the NGO, Institutos Ecologistas. The Water Board is making strides in expense reporting and quality management procedures that will help make for a smooth and sustainable collaboration. Approximately 200 people spread through more than 28 homes will be directly impacted by this project.
Since the Fall of 2021, the project team has been preparing for an assessment trip to the communities of Tambanal and Ayaloma. Assessment trips are vital steps in the project process as the project team has the opportunity to build relationships with the community and other in country partners and collect necessary technical and public health data. This preparation work has consisted of paperwork, engineering analysis, and research. The preparation for this trip ended in December of 2022 when the travel team visited our partner communities to conduct the assessment trip.
The assessment trip took place from December 28th to January 6th 2023. An eight person travel team consisting of three student members and five Pittsburgh Professional Chapter members completed an assessment trip where they met with community leaders and members, obtained baseline data about their water sources, surveyed the pre-existing health practice and health beliefs of the community members, and built a strong relationship with the community and leaders.
The valuable information that was collected on the assessment trip by the travel team has been compiled in a Post-Assessment report and the team is currently preparing to move into Alternatives Analysis. In the Alternatives Analysis phase the collected data will be used to analyze and develop possible solutions to the towns' water distribution infrastructure. These solutions will be developed with community input to meet our partner communities' identified needs.