Valle Las Perlas is a beautiful small indigenous Ngobe community of approximately 300 residents, located within Bocas del Toro, Panama.
The mission of the requested project is to provide the technical and funding assistance for the majority of members in the community to have regular access to potable water in their homes.
The community currently has a 10 year old aqueduct that does not serve the community needs, for a number of reasons. The flow from the water source has decreased severely in the past 10 years while the community has nearly doubled in size. The original water tank, which was too small to begin with, cannot meet the needs of the current community. Water is more likely to arrive through the aqueduct for a few hours a day if it has been raining heavily, but otherwise many houses often can go a day or two without receiving any water, and when they do, it only comes for an hour or two. This causes many families to seek out water in streams and creeks, which are not fit for drinking and often cause health issues, especially in children. Receiving reliable and consistent water in the household will increase community members overall health and well-being.
This program is aligned with sustainable development efforts as the community already has a water committee that knows how to charge monthly usage fees, repair damaged and broken tubing, clean the storage tank and handle all general maintenance of the aqueduct once it is built. The community and the water committee have done their best to keep our current aqueduct functioning, but due to reasons mentioned above, they are unable to provide the amount of water necessary for all households in the community.
Students traveled to Valle Las Perlas for an inital assessment of the current system in the spring of 2012. Their findings were that the developed source, a protected spring approximately a mile away from the community, supplies ample clean water and is suitable for further use despite the community growth.
During the summer of 2013, students traveled again to collect topographical data that will be used in the design of the refurbished system and the project is currently in the design phase.
Limited implementation of improvements are scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2014.