ClearWater PhotoEssay: Engineers Without Borders in the Amazon
Posted on August 9, 2012
A team of engineers from Engineers Without Borders traveled with ClearWater to the northeastern Ecuadorian Amazon last week as part of community led efforts to build clean water solutions to the water crisis gripping the region. Here, the engineers reflect on water quality issues in the Quichua town of Rumipamba.
The Quichua town of Rumipamba (about an hour south of Coca) has been living with oil contamination for the last forty years. Here a quichua villager is engaged in a rudimentary remediation of a thirty year old Texaco oil spill.
The ClearWater delegation (including Engineers without Borders, Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network, Groundwork Opportunities and local community leaders) observe and document the legacy of oil contamination in the region.
Oil is all pervasive in the northeastern Ecuadorian Amazon. Here an oil pipelines passes under the house of Guillermo Grefa, a leader of the Quichua people. This pipeline is prone to ruptures and spills.
Hanging in the balance. Here a young Quichua boy plays in the workers tent approximately 10 meters from the oil pits. The workers’ protective overalls dry in the background.
Engineers Without Borders visits a broken community potable water system in the town of Rumipamba. Many water projects in the region have failed due to culturally inappropriate technology and high maintenance costs. The ClearWater project is led by local community members, and trained community technicians, with the technical support of international groups like Engineers Without Borders, in order to create the most sustainable and effective clean water solutions for the region.
Here Donald Moncayo (from the Amazon Defense Coalition) and Guillermo Grefa (from Rumipamba) discuss water quality issues with the team from Engineers Without Borders.
Throughout the trip, the ClearWater team investigated and evaluated many sources of clean water in the region.
Here Donald Moncayo and Mitch Anderson (ClearWater) explain the history of oil contamination in the region next to an old Texaco oil well, called AguaRico 4. In the near vicinity we found many abandoned waste pits, and an extensively contaminated marsh.
Here Emergildo Criollo, (ClearWater Community Coordinator) explains the design of the ClearWater rainwater catchment systems in the community of CofanDureno.
Here a Cofan Shaman, Alejandro Criollo, rinses his hands with clean water from the ClearWater rainwater systems.
Children of the Cofan community. The ClearWater team joked that they were getting married! Throughout the trip, the children of the Quichua, Cofan and Secoya were constant reminders of how important clean water is for the survival of the tribes. In the Cofan community we heard many stories of how in only several months, the rainwater units have helped to eliminate health problems in children, such as diarrhea and skin rashes.
The ClearWater team (with Emergildo Criollo at the helm!) heading down the AguaRico river to Secoya territory.
The ClearWater team stayed at a former schoolhouse in the community of San Pablo. The trip was full of very peaceful moments in communities.
Here our friends in the Secoya community prepare a wonderful chicken and rice dinner. And the children scratched their heads at our large group sitting on their dining room floor!
The ClearWater team’s last night in the oil town of Lago Agrio. It was a powerful journey, and we’re looking forward to the road ahead.