Project closed | Project period: 2011–2013
Drinking Water for Achocalla
Better water quality through filter systems
Siemens Stiftung supported the “Drinking Water for Achocalla” initiative, which was launched to improve the poor supply of drinking water in the Achocalla community near La Paz. To that end, a water kiosk was installed on the shore of the nearby lagoon, a popular destination for local residents and tourists alike. A mobile water filter in the kiosk – the SkyHydrant – removes suspended particles, bacteria, and viruses, thus securing the supply of drinking water for the restaurant and snack bars on the lagoon.
In addition, a small enterprise has been established to produce inexpensive clay filters for Achocalla households. Both initiatives focued on economic sustainability. The production and marketing of the simple clay water filters create income opportunities. The sale of safe drinking water at the kiosk also generates enough revenue to cover costs and to contribute to improving local tourism.
The solutions introduced to improve the drinking water situation in Achocalla will be published in a project documentation that could help extend the collective experience to other regions.
Achocalla is located near the La Paz and El Alto metropolitan areas, and its small lagoon makes the community a popular local recreation spot. But as its population grows, water has become increasingly scarce. But not even this water is really suited for drinking because it is polluted by nearby agricultural and livestock operations. The area has no functioning wastewater treatment. Achocalla is just one example for the lack of adequate water and sewage services in the Andean region.
With our projects in the area of Basic Services & Entrepreneurship, we contribute to overcoming these supply deficits with the help of technical solutions and a socio-entrepreneurial approach. The aim of the Drinking Water for Achocalla project was to improve the quality of water for residents and tourists. The solutions developed in this community can also be adopted in other rural regions.
From the start, the project was planned in close cooperation with the Achocalla community. The idea for the project came from the residents.
- Opening a water kiosk with SkyHydrant water filters A water kiosk was built on the lagoon to ensure the supply of drinking water for the restaurants and snack bars along the shore. The installed SkyHydrant membrane filter removes suspended particles, bacteria, and viruses from the water. The kiosk was planed in cooperation with the Achocalla municipal administration. Local contractors were responsible for its construction. Restaurant owners on the lagoon now operate the water kiosk as a collective.
- Launching a small business to produce inexpensive drinking water filters Ceramic filters are a simple but effective method to purify water in households. They are able to produce crystal clear water without the use of electricity. Bacteria cannot pass through the pores of the filter element, which is treated with colloidal silver. Purified water can be safely stored in the filter as well. A small enterprise to produce filters from local clay was launched in Achocalla, and several residents have found jobs there. Production of the filters, which members of the community can purchase at low cost, began shortly.
- Hygiene training courses for improved healthInformation material has been prepared to educate Achocalla residents on the importance of clean drinking water to prevent diseases. The handouts and, above all, safe drinking water are making a significant contribution to improved health in the community.
Because of the unacceptable water supply in Achocalla, the community turned to Swisscontact for support. The Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation had already launched a waste management system in Achocalla. The community’s request met with interest: In cooperation with Siemens Stiftung, local partners and residents, Swisscontact developed solutions for the supply of safe drinking water for Achocalla.
- Installation of a water kiosk The first step was to install a water kiosk with SkyHydrant water filters. The kiosk is designed to secure the supply of drinking water for the restaurant and snack bars catering to residents and tourists around the Achocalla lagoon. Following lengthy discussions between residents and the municipal administration, final plans for the water kiosk were passed and construction began. The water kiosk was inaugurated at the end of 2012.
- Small business established to produce drinking water filters The second part of the cooperation project focused on the establishment of FILTRUMA, a small business to produce inexpensive clay drinking water filters. The filters will be made of local materials and last for about one year. The first production series was planned for 600 Achocalla families, allowing them to filter water in their own homes at low cost. Construction of the production facility began following an ecological audit: The first clay filters were slated for delivery in September 2013.
- What has happened since the project began? Improved water quality has a lasting effect on the health of Achocalla residents and tourists. The purified water from the kiosk has noticeably decreased stomach complaints. The Drinking Water for Achocalla initiative was designed to serve as a pilot project for similar initiatives in Bolivia. With that in mind, project documentation has been prepared to encourage sharing “best practice“ experiences with other regions.
The creation of the small enterprise has generated new jobs for community members, who are also responsible for operating the water kiosk at the lagoon. The project is now in the hands of the Achocalla community, ensuring a dependable, long-term water supply.