Hydromissions returned to the islands off the coast of Panama to continue to support the village of Ngobe people adjacent to the Wood family missionaries from the state of Washington. In the past, Hydromissions provided a well, latrine, hygiene education and additional well drilling training. The homes in the village are spread around two different terrains. One cluster of homes is built over the water, mixed in with the mud and mangroves. The other cluster of homes is built on the hills, out of the tidal flood zone. The homes on the hill have closer access to the well built in 2014. The particular cluster of houses built in the mangroves has a man who is bedridden (paralyzed) and his daughters paddle their cayuco (canoe) over every day to get water. In addition, a new school was constructed in the village.
There is an existing water line that takes water from a small reservoir to a laundry station. We had hoped to use that pipe and just extend it, but when we actually followed the pipe route to the reservoir (an adventure in itself), we found that the pipe was broken in many places and too small to carry the water as far as we needed it to go. The existing water line is 1,200′ and we need to go 2,400′ to get water from the reservoir to the mangrove houses. We finally decided that we had to replace the entire existing pipeline in addition to buying the new pipe. We designed the system to use 4” diameter pipe from the spring reservoir, for 300’. We reduced it down to 2” for the remaining 1,100’. The pipeline took about 2 months to complete. A trench was dug that would cover the pipe with 12” of soil for the entire length. Working with the community was difficult since the project was long and labor intensive. This project was important to the entire community, but old practices with piping did not include burying pipe and gluing it at joints. It was difficult to keep everyone working on digging the difficult ditch when they were used to just laying the pipe on top of the ground. By laying the pipe on top, pipe was often broken by cows and people. It was also hard to convey that pipe should not be cut to “see the water” because it reduced the pressure needed for the water to travel from the jungle spring to the mangrove homes. It was a long distance and not a lot of elevation change so every little bit of pressure was important. After two months of challenges, water was finally flowing to the school and mangrove homes.
Spring catchment and piping project
Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro, Panama
The Wood Family (missionaries)
latrine, septic tank, tippy-taps, hygiene classes. September 2014
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