Caisan Centro Primary School Water Project – Panama

Caisan, Chiriqui, Panama

Community Description
Caisan Centro is a Latino farming community in the highlands of the province of Chiriqui, Panama. With about 200 houses, Centro is a small outlying suburb of the larger district of Renacimiento, and is often overlooked next to the bigger community when it comes to needed services. A specific case in point is the issue of water: Centro has a poorly maintained aqueduct, while surrounding communities have the resources to fund brand new aqueduct projects.

Centro’s aqueduct often breaks down because of poorly designed engineering and inferior materials. Even when fully functioning, there are parts of the community it cannot serve.

The direst and immediate problem concerns the only elementary school in the community, Escuela Caisan Centro. It is a small two-classroom school, situated on top of a hill overlooking the province lowlands. Because of its elevation is slightly higher than the aqueduct, the school cannot be served by the aqueduct and is without water.

The views from Escuela Caisan Centro are breathtaking, as is the trek up the hill carrying the buckets of water needed to mop, wash hands and dishes, and more importantly, to retrieve water for the children to drink.

The school is run by one teacher who is also the school’s principal. She is responsible for the education of 30 students ranging from first to sixth grade, which she teaches in rotation. Due to an influx of children from a newly opened orphanage in the area, the student body recently rose to over 80 students.

The lack of accessible water in the school has meant that toilets are used like latrines, only flushed on specific days when area residents allow the school to use some of their scarce and precious well water. There is much less access during the summer when area wells start to dry up before the return of the rainy season.

The bathrooms and unwashed dishes tend to attract insects and animals, which bother the students in the nearby classrooms. In addition, there is the danger of the spread of disease. A second important health risk is the inadequacy of water available for the students and their teachers after recess or lunch, as the rationed water isn’t adequate to keep students or adults adequately hydrated in this hot climate.

The Ministry of Health closes the school down periodically when it comes by for inspection and finds that the school is without water. The teacher has asked students to bring their own water bottles to school, but being children, they often forget them at home.

Project Description
This project is to build a rainwater catchment system to provide water for the school, and to purchase a large cooler that will hold drinking water, donated by area neighbors.

To build the rainwater catchment system, four-inch plastic PVC water tubes will be cut in half to make gutters for rainwater runoff from the school’s zinc roof. From the gutters, the water will be directed to a 200-gallon raised-tank through half-inch PVC pipes.

In addition to the materials for constructing the gutters, project funds will go to purchase a sink for washing dishes and mopping, and for a 10-gallon cooler to hold drinking water in the classroom.

The community will provide labor and will transport the purchased materials.

Upon project completion, a Clean Water Day will be held to teach simple hygiene and sanitation to the students and their parents for proper hand washing, the risks of drinking untreated rainwater, the dangers of dehydration, and the possible serious consequences of drinking water from old chemical containers.

Project Impact
This project will benefit about 85 people, including the students and staff at the school.

Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Annie O’Donnell

This project will help the school and the students make positive improvements in health and hygiene, reducing disease. It also will allow the students more time in the classroom, rather than carrying water.

Dollar Amount of Project

Donations Collected to Date

Dollar Amount Needed
$0.00 – This project has now been fully funded through the generosity of The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust as a part of their Clean Water Projects initiative.

We encourage others to continue to donate using the Donate button below, and we will notify Annie of your donation. Additional funds will be used to fund the next project by the PCV and/or other projects in the country of service.

This project has been finished. To read about the conclusion of the project, CLICK HERE.