Compone, Peru

Background

Compone is a community of 2,000 in the Andean Mountains of southern Peru, 16 miles west of the city of Cuzco. It is a traditional Peruvian highlands farming community with grain crops, livestock and dairy products as the main sources of livelihood.

In the spring of 2008 , a development engineer working with the Association of Conservation of the Amazon Basin (ACCA) approached EWB-UMD to propose a water sanitation project in Compone. The community had two water-related issues. First, annual spring output had declined in recent years, causing daily water shortages in the dry season. Being a community of subsistence farmers, Compone is heavily dependent on its water supply for irrigation purposes. A collection of inefficiencies in their irrigation network was seen as the main contributor to their water losses. Secondly, the water was not treated, thus spreading gastro-intestinal illnesses from waterborne viruses, bacteria and cysts. It is believed that the contamination stemmed from animal waste, which is commonplace in an agricultural community such as Compone. Five gravity-fed systems had been built to supply water from springs to the inhabitants of Compone. Each of the five independent systems provided water, but did not prevent contamination from the runoff of the fields above the springs. In the time since the discovery of the issues, the two issues of water quantity and quality were approached systematically through a series of assessment and implementation trips.

January 2015 assessment team went to Compone to finalize their decision on the next phase. After eliminating all but one of the project ideas due to lack of expertise from EWB-UMD, lack of need and interest from Compone, and ability on Compone’s part to ease these situations through simple fixes, Compone’s leadership and EWB-UMD suggested the next phase of the program be focused on increasing road safety through the building of a bridge. This concern stemmed from multiple accidents involving pedestrians and livestock with vehicular traffic being reported in a short period of time. As pedestrians and their livestock often use small, two foot wide shoulders to traverse the town, near misses and swipes from vehicles are common in conjunction with the accidents. Residents have no other choice but to use the side of the roads at certain choke points, where only the road crosses a stream or there are no other walking paths nearby. Community leaders are hoping to eliminate some of these choke points with bridges and the assistance of EWB-UMD.