Publicada el 9 de Diciembre de 2014
The situation in Peru is changing by leaps and bounds, but that doesn’t always lead to improvements for the entire population. In many regions of the country, population growth and the shift from rural to urban areas has led to human settlements, both formal and informal, in places which were previously had been farmland or hillsides. In the Saylla District, in Cusco province, the urban population expanded by 306.9% between 1993 and 2007, according to Peru’s National Population and Housing Census.
At times, this rapid demographic growth can lead to settlements developing before the installation of basic services, such as water and sanitation, which are human rights recognised by the General Assembly of the United Nations. This shortfall can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses from drinking unhealthy water, and to the risk of spreading other types of illnesses due to the inability to maintain proper hygiene.
This has been the situation in Santa Bárbara, an extension of the Saylla District urban area, where the population has been obtaining water from public faucets or directly from the nearby stream. In this context, and through its Social Infrastructure programme, Ferrovial joined forces with Spanish NGO ECODES, its local partner Guaman Poma, and the Saylla municipal government to implement a project that guarantees home water supply to its more than 800 inhabitants.
Although rains are seasonal, the predominantly-mountainous Cusco region has natural springs whose water is suitable for human consumption. Unlike in other areas, the problem is not a lack of water but, rather, access to water in the necessary quantity and the necessary continuity and health standards. In the specific case of Santa Bárbara, these requirements were not met by the stream, since surface waters generally contain levels of chemical, physical and biological pollution that may affect human health, or by the public faucets, which could not guarantee quantity or continuity.
In view of this, the project proposed that the most viable solution for providing the people of Santa Bárbara with secure access to drinking water was to build an end-to-end water supply system, from capture at the spring to a connection in every home in the community. It also included workshops to train the population and raise awareness about the importance of properly maintaining the system and the water installations in the homes, and on good water use and hygiene habits.
The project involved the construction of:
1.- A spring box system was installed in such a way that the water is never in contact with the exterior; it is collected in a sealed box and is then piped downhill; the box has an overflow pipe to discharge any surplus water.
2.- A reservoir or water tank with a capacity of 100 m3, a valve house and a chlorination system that ensures the water is suitable for human consumption.
3.- An intermediate chamber damps the water pressure, ensuring that the downstream installation is not damaged by pressure surges.
4.- Supply and distribution mains, as well as home connections with their respective meters. This project also provides support and advice to families on water connections inside the home.
This joint project by Ferrovial, ECODES, Guaman Poma, the Saylla local government, and the people of Santa Bárbara has provided the community with a sufficient, quality, continuous supply of water at pressure to meet its needs.
Written by José Javier Sastre Aparisi. the 9 de Diciembre de 2014