MICHES WATER COMMITTEES WIN AWARDS AT WATER FOR PEOPLE CONFERENCE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Date: April 15, 2009
Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Two prizes for a total of $7,000 (US) were awarded to two Miches communities from Water for People (WfP) at their organizational conference held in Santo Domingo on April 15, 2009. ESSEG staff helped to form the committees in the two communities and to prepare them for the competition at the conference. Committees were judged by WfP by whether the proposed committee will ensure community involvement, had local government support, and was sustainable over the long-term.

Two prizes for a total of $7,000 (US) were awarded to two Miches communities from Water for People (WfP) at their organizational conference held in Santo Domingo on April 15, 2009. ESSEG staff helped to form the committees in the two communities and to prepare them for the competition at the conference. Committees were judged by WfP by whether the proposed committee will ensure community involvement, had local government support, and was sustainable over the long-term.

Los Cuatro Caminos Water Committee
In February of 2009, ESSEG project staff began facilitating Los Cuatro Caminos community water committee organization to address water quality and access concerns. The committee received an award of USD$2,000 from WfP, which they will use to replace the water pump and repair the power line to the pump.

The water committee is currently composed of five community members: Simón Lora Molfa, Leoncio Luperto Bastardo Sánchez, Ricardo Silvestre, Alcides Feliz Cuevas, and Jose Martir. ESSEG staff and the committee members met at least once a week for six weeks prior to the WfP conference to identify long-standing community water issues and to develop a project proposal and presentation for the award competition.

The committee decided that water access was the most pressing issue to present at the conference. Previously, a water pump used to deliver river water to 504 residents in 103 homes until it broke over six years ago. The problem was compounded when a coco tree snapped the power line during a recent storm so that even if the faulty pump was replaced, there would be no electricity to power it. For the last six years, families have had to walk to the river to collect water or catch rainwater. Furthermore, there has been no water in the school since its construction eight years ago, rendering the bathrooms unusable.

With proper management, homes will once again have water, the school bathrooms will function, and women and children will not have to spend precious time walking to the river. Hand-washing in the home and school will be more easily practiced, which is an important factor in preventing the spread of pathogens.

Water Access and Distribution System

Since August of 2008, ESSEG staff has been facilitating the collaboration between the community of Miramar and The University of South Florida Engineers Without Borders (USF-EWB) chapter. The Miramar committee received USD$5,000 at the WfP conference which they will use to address general issues of water access and quality in their community.

A water delivery system was collaboratively designed for the isolated community of approximately 500 people in 115 homes. A new water tank and community pumps will be established, improving water access for over 600 people. Construction is scheduled to begin in July and materials will be provided by USF-EWB, Rotary International, and The Rotary Chapter of Clearwater, Florida.

Miramar is a recent and informal community that was established uphill from the gravity-fed water tank so that it cannot be supplied by the same water source from which the rest of Miches receives its water. At present, all water in Miramar is taken directly from the river and hand carried several hundred meters uphill to the community by the women and children.

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