Compone, Peru: Irrigation 2011

Background

Compone is a community of 1500 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-UMCP to propose a water sanitation project in Compone. While addressing these sanitation issues in country, students discovered flaws in the irrigation system used by the community for farming.

The Need

Being a community of subsistence farmers, Compone is heavily dependent on its water supply for irrigation purposes. In recent years, the community has experienced a decrease in the amount of water available to it for agricultural use. A collection of inefficiencies in their irrigation network is seen as a fixable contributor to their water losses.

EWB Response

An assessment of Compone's irrigation network in August 2010 found evidence of losses greater than 200,000 liters per day through the soils from which the irrigation channels were constructed. Additional losses occurred through the inefficient breakout system, which involved removing and replacing dirt to control the flow of water from the main channel. The project team designed a solution to better conserve the community's water by improving the efficiency of the irrigation network. The proposed solution involved a soil-cement channel lining and improved breakout gates.

In June 2011, an implementation team from UMCP traveled to Compone to help the community construct the designed improvements for a 30-meter portion of the 1.3km irrigation channel. The community is continuing construction on the remainder of the channel. It is hoped that the skills developed during the implementation trip will be used by the residents of Compone to increase the efficiency of all of their irrigation canals, and to demonstrate the methods to neighboring communities.