Waves For Water Project Manager Ethan Lovell recently returned to the Ecuadorian Amazon to work with several indigenous communities. Travel to these remote regions of the forest is not always easy, you need to travel to small airports and ports on the outskirts of the Amazon. This transit is always weather dependent as you fly or take canoes deep into the forest. Transporting supplies is also difficult due to limited space on the smaller aircrafts and canoes. While the majority of the communities each have a landing strip or can be accessed by boat, others require a variation of transport.
When Waves For Water arrived we encountered people suffering from health issues due to lack of access to clean drinking water. The communities drink water from springs but during the dryer seasons the water levels drop and the people are forced to take water from the rivers. The water from the rivers at risk of heavy metal and chemical contaminants increases due to oil drilling, mining and deforestation. The most common aspect of our program is water filtration as most places we work in have access to water; it’s just not clean. Due to a lack of proper infrastructure, it is bio-contaminants that are the issue in these places. So, the filter we use is specific to that — removing the deadly bacteria and parasites from rural water sources including rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, hand-dug boreholes, and wells with hand pumps. The Sawyer MVP Filter that we typically use is not equipped to remove heavy metal, chemical, or viral contaminants.
In every situation we collect the best intel to determine which of our clean-water programs, consisting of filtration, well digging & repairing, or rainwater harvesting, are the best solutions. In this case, by providing rainwater harvesting coupled with the MVP water filtration system to remove bacteria, the communities will not be obligated to waste resources and time to boil water and may use the water for all other hygienic needs.
On our recent project we installed rain harvesting systems and water filters to the community centers. Personal bucket systems were also being implemented to families living far from the community centers. Waves For Water was able to implement over 150 water filtration systems throughout the Ashuar and Shuar territories. This was all possible by supporting local community leaders to establish a network throughout the Amazon. Working with the indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon was a great fit because of the common love of their environment and unique cultures. Within the communities the people work well with each other and make the absolute best of what they have. This enables the program to reach its full potential and will be shared. The majority of the communities are very remote to say the least. Waves For Water is now working with local leaders of the Ashuar and Shuar to develop a longterm program to provide safe drinking water throughout the Amazon.