Where we work
Ecuador is a watery wonderland. Although small (it is roughly the size of New Zealand), it is home to more than 2,000 rivers and streams, at least 17 distinct indigenous groups, and the greatest level of biodiversity of any country in the world in relation to its size. Located in the headwaters of the Amazon basin, Ecuador has more available freshwater resources per capita than almost any other country. No wonder it was recently designated the “Water Capital of the World” by the Panamerican Health Organization. Yet despite this apparent abundance of liquid wealth, Ecuador is in the midst of a water crisis.
Most of the nation's water conflicts begin with the lack of solid information. Ecuador does not have a modern hydrological monitoring network to adequately evaluate river flows. Multiple proposals for dam and diversion projects for drinking water, irrigation, and energy production based on “median annual flows” have resulted in unbalanced water-resource planning and prompted the government to grant concessions that exceed the amount of available water. These “median” values are simply the average of the maximum and minimum flows recorded and result in distorted flow projections of up to four times the level that is typically observed. In addition, changing climate trends have altered rainfall patterns while widespread deforestation and poor land management practices have further reduced the capacity of the rivers to maintain stable base flows.
While overly ambitious projects are built without the available water to feed them, existing water infrastructure has been allowed to deteriorate – a condition that leads to acute levels of inefficiency and puts greater demand on water resources. In many cases, municipal drinking water systems register losses of up to 65%. In many irrigation systems, only 15% of the water reaches its intended destination, while the rest is lost to infiltration through unlined canals, breaks, and poor connections. Inevitably, this inefficiency leads to over-consumption, which in turn incites conflict for a limited resource.
(source: http://www.internationalrivers.org )
“The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Frederick Buechner
Of the almost 29 million people in Peru, approximately 5.3 million people don't have access to safe water and 9.2 million don't have access to improved sanitation services.
More than 30 percent of the population lives below the national poverty level. For many of the families without piped water, buying water from private vendors can cost a huge proportion of their meager household income, causing families to resort to untreated water from wells, rivers, and streams. Lack of access to clean and affordable water contributes to the rapid spread of water-borne diseases. In the early 1990s, after World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank water sector reforms began, a massive cholera epidemic originated in Peru causing more than 3,000 deaths and spreading across Latin America.