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Engineering for a Sustainable Society
Engineers Without Borders


Buena Vista Honduras: Gravity Fed Water Supply

Since 2006, ESF-EWB has been working to bring potable water to the village of Buena Vista in Central Honduras. Originally, the project was managed by Suzanne Mills, a member of the Peace Corps. When her term of service in the Peace Corps ended, Suzanne passed along control of the project and her survey data of Buena Vista to ESF-EWB.

Buena Vista is a community of approximately 300 subsistence farmers. The residences are spread far and wide across the tops of Honduran mountains. The people live off the land. They grow coffee, plantains, bananas, sugar cane, yucca and other assorted vegetable for consumption. Any extra agricultural products are sold, and the profits used for clothes and other food products they cannot grow themselves. While the community is rich in community pride, family values, neighborly generosity and hospitality, they are economically poor by United States and Honduran standards.

Currently, the villagers do not have a continual supply of clean, potable water. The sources of water close to the residences are contaminated with coliform bacteria, which causes intestinal illness when consumed. A few months out of the year, a fragile system of thin rubber hoses brings drinkable water from a distant source to a portion of the community. However, the water only runs during the rainy season, and the tenuous hose junctions frequently disconnect. Clearly there is the need for a durable piping system that can supply all the community members with clean water for drinking, cooking, washing of dishes and clothing, and personal hygiene.

Although our role is critical, we are not alone in our efforts for the project. We have formed a critical partnership with a group called ALFALIT. ALFALIT is a Honduran non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to establishing infrastructure in the under-developed communities of the region. ALFALIT is located in Olanchito, the closest major city to Buena Vista. The NGO's roles in the project is to act as a liaison between ESF-EWB and the village, and to organize construction materials, equipment and labor.


The third partner in the project is the village of Buena Vista itself. Within the community, there is a Water Board. The members of the water board represent the interests of the villagers. Also, they will be in charge of maintenance of the project after construction.

Currently the project is in its final stages. The various tanks and structures have been built (the dam is pictured below) and the pipeline in almost complete. EWB members will be visitng the community again to be part of the inauguration.

Members from EWB have travelled to Buena Vista multiple times. Once in the spring of 2008 to collect initial data and meet the community. Then, in the spring of 2011 members went down again as a mobilization effort. This involved meeting with the water board and finalizing community contracts. Later, during the summer of 2011, students went to Buena Vista to help dig the trenches for the pipeline and help build one of the storage tanks.

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