Latest News from Engineers in Action

Posted on: July 29, 2009

The Chiquitano Forest is the largest tropical dry forest in the world, covering 44 million acres, roughly the size of state of Florida. Because of its remoteness, between 80-85% of the 60,000 inhabitants live in extreme poverty*.

200 Chiquitano Communities Suffer as Water Wells Fail

From 2000-2004, the Bolivian government, with funding from the Japanese government, drilled an estimated 200 water wells throughout the Chiquitano at a cost of more than $3 million.

San Juan de la Bella near Concepcion

However, they did no testing of the water, and simply left the well with open casing, often welding a lid on top. So, while a potable water well had been drilled in their community, people had no access. In a few locations, ingenious locals actually pried off the lids and developed their own crude bucket system just to get at the water.

Efforts to Salvage These Wells Fall Through

In 2004-2008, Hermes Justiniano, the Director of the Chiquitano Forest Preserve Foundation and a Rotarian in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, found $1.3 million in funding from Canadian Rotary groups to put 96 hand pumps on these wells. However, in 2008, they discovered that over a fourth of the hand pumps that had been installed were not working because of the lack of maintenance.

Hope for Real Change in Chiquitano

In January 2009, a new partnership was formed between the Chiquitano Forest Preserve Foundation (FCBC), Rotary Clubs of Canada, and Engineers In Action (EIA). This partnership seeks to repair, inspect, and maintain the 96 wells with hand pumps. We will also install hand pumps on the wells which don’t have them.