Valle Escondido is a small community tucked in the hills of mainland Panama on the Caribbean side of the country. Although not on the islands in the province of Bocas Del Toro, Valle Escondido is still only accessible by boat. The main stretch of the community has water piped from a spring, but there are outlier homes that struggle to access water. We walked to the five homes (one located over a mile inland) to see what could be done to help them access safe water. Each home was assessed and it was decided that all five homes would receive rainwater catchment. In addition, an existing spring catchment and piping system repaired would serve four homes with non-potable water for bathing and cleaning and the fifth home would receive a borehole well, based on the terrain. The home where we planned to drill a well was the home of a single mother, Elia. Elia lived with her elderly parents and children. Her home was so far from the center of “town” that we were a bit confused to find that it was still part of Valle Escondido. She lived on top of a large hill and walked down her hill to access water from a small spring. It was just an open ponding of water that she would dip her buckets into to use for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing. One of the main ways that we drill our wells in this province is to find the small spring (what locals call the “eye of water”) and drill nearby to access the underground source before is it contaminated on a surface level. We first drilled right near the spring that Elia used primarily, but that did not yield a good flow of water and would not have provided enough for her family. We moved on to a different location that was used less frequently, but had a small source of water that appeared on the surface. We drilled nearby and found enough supply for her needs. Typically we drill wells that will be used by clusters of homes (3-5 homes per well), but in the case of Elia, she lived so far from other homes that we provided her with a well of her own. Hydromissions was able to return to Valle Escondido on multiple occasions in order to complete the well, rainwater catchment systems, spring catchment repair and install the pvc pump on Elia’s well.
Repaired an existing spring catchment and piping system, installed new rain catchment gutters and tanks, drilled one well and installed a pvc hand pump. Five homes (about 30 people) served.
We built and installed a simple Canzee pump out of PVC. In the end we were able to install a working, simple pump that the women and children were are able to use. We were surprised at the type of soil we found here. We expected the water table to be much shallower. The soil here had lots of hard clay. It is also somewhat expensive here for resources, costing approximately $375 to dig, build, and establish a pump and well system. But, the items we bought were some of the best supplies that I have found in Africa. The PVC was very thick and strong, and of high quality. With Patrick and Revelier being permanent fixtures there, I truly believe that more pumps will be built.
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