Brazil has the largest population and land area in South America, and is the contintent’s only non-Spanish speaking nation. Although the country has a high exchange rate and famous touristic cities, such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, this does not accurately represent the conditions of the entire country. Over 30 percent of the population live below the poverty line and are not given equal access to water and sanitation facilities.
Many communities do not have access to potable water. The Brazilian islands especially suffer droughts during the dry seasons, which leads residents to find and use brackish, contaminated sources of water. As is expected, this causes a prevalence of gastrointestinal diseases.
Ilha das Peças is an island located in the South-East coast of Brazil in the state of Parana. The island itself is fairly large; however, most of the land is a protected national park, confining the community to a small plot of land close to the coast.
EWB-UMCP’s program in Brazil began in 2006 with the partnership of two neighboring universities in the cities of Curitiba and Pontal. These initial projects began with the construction of a reservoir and the installation of a chlorination system in 2006. Then, micro constructed wetland systems were installed to service the community in 2007.
There are approximately 250 residents living on the island, many of which are fishermen. Most of the children attend a local school, which holds about 110 students ranging from grades K-12. The recently implemented EWB-UMCP project worked on a water purification system to meet the water demand of the local school.
The local school’s main problem stemmed from an inadequate water supply. Potable water must be piped in from the mainland from a source over 20 km away. A problem arose because this source has a very low output in the dry season. In addition, nearby crabbers damage the pipeline which decreases the output year round. As a result of the shortage, the school did not receive enough water, especially during the dry season. The water provided to the school by the municipality was used as both potable and non-potable water. Ensuring that the school has a constant supply of both potable and non-potable water does not only provide a more livable and sanitary environment at the school, but it also guarantees that the previously constructed wetlands can operate properly.