Embera Puru Rainwater Catchment System Project – Panama

Embera Puru, Chagres National Park, Colon, Panama

Community Description
The community of Embera Puru is a rural indigenous tribe located along the Rio San Juan de Piquini inside the Chagres National Park in Panama. Within the village, there are about 100 residents, including children, with a 10% growth in the last year. All families live below the poverty line and earn their living panning for gold in the summer and working in Eco-tourism in the winter.

With the youth quickly becoming the majority the adults are looking for ways to assure that the children are receiving the best education and health benefits that they can feasibly supply. Being very motivated, smart and hardworking, the community recognizes that the modern world exist, and they have as much curiosity about the culture and economic systems that occur in the city as we have about their exotic dances and extensive knowledge of the rainforest.

Unfortunately, being an indigenous group in a National Park it tends to often be a struggle to find the monetary means of supporting their children’s education and health needs.

One way they began to incorporate modernity into their lives was by soliciting a government MEDUCA teacher and by building a one-room wooden primary school that children grades 1-6 attend together. While this may seem very basic, it was a huge step in becoming more connected to the country they live in as well as being recognized by the government as an existing part of the national system.

Although previous volunteers assisted the community in constructing an aqueduct in 2006, the school lies at an elevation well above the line of pressure that would allow them to simply add an extra spigot.

Currently, the closest water source is a fair walk down a hill and not a reasonable trip for the students to make during class hours. In addition, this water source is not at all times reliable. This leads to a lack of drinking water or a place for students and teachers to wash their hands after using the school pit latrine, which can easily lead to many common illnesses related to waste facility exposure.

The mothers of the school children rotate shifts cooking breakfast and lunch for the children. They have no close water source to cook the meals and wash the dishes afterward.

Project Description
This project is to build a rainwater catchment system to provide a water supply for the school.

The school is the only structure that does not have a thatched roof but instead one made of zinc. This makes it a prime location to build a water catchment system.

Water running off the roof will be captured in gutters and directed to tanks. Pipes will be run to the kitchen to be constructed.

Three spigots will be installed, one for the use of the children and two for the kitchen. Three sinks will be installed, along with piping to remove the wastewater from the facility.

Project funds will be used to purchase the materials.

The community will volunteer their labor and many of the natural materials needed for the project.

There is already an existing water committee in the community. Upon the completion of the project, a new adult will be nominated to serve on this committee as the representative and keeper of the new school water catchment system.

Project Impact
Approximately 70 people will benefit from the project.

Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Sara Taylor

This project creates a clean and reliable water source. It will have an immediate effect on hygiene and sanitation at the school, thus reducing disease. In addition, it will relieve students and staff from the task of carrying water to the school, thereby freeing them up for more productive tasks.

Dollar Amount of Project

Donations Collected to Date

Dollar Amount Needed
$0.00 – This project has now been fully funded through the generosity of Michael McLaughlin, of Fayatteville, AR, USA.

We encourage others to continue to donate using the Donate button below, and we will notify Sara of your donation. Additional funds will be used to fund the next project by Sara and/or those of other PCVs in Panama.

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