- An aluminum boat and outboard motor are needed to transport school children, villagers going to the market, and for emergency transport to the hospital.
- Solar power cells for energy needs. We are also looking at a river-powered turbine to produce electricity.
- School supplies, as well as a school house for grades six through eight.
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As of now the village relies on a diesel powered generator. It often breaks down and is difficult to repair (lack of skill and parts). Also, the fuel is costly and difficult to transport. The electricity is used to power the computers at school, charge cell phones to communicate with the outside world, and have light in some areas from 6pm to 9pm during the night.
The most economical solar solution I could find involves a 75w solar panel (weighing 9 pounds and may be laminated to sheet metal), cables, a voltage regulator, a power inverter, circuit breaker, and a deep cycle battery. All of this will cost about $600. It will supply sufficient power to run 2 small florescent light bulbs during the night, a cell phone and portable battery charger, a small radio, and a small laptop computer (for a limited amount of time).
These electronics allow them to study, work, and move at night, to listen to music, and to stay in contact with the outside world.
It is difficult to access clean water. Probably the best source comes from rain water, which is unavailable during the dry season. The village has a large water filtration system, see water sustainability, but it is frequently blocked, and does not function when the diesel generator is not in operation to pump water to the first holding tanks. Smaller, cleanable and replaceable cartridge systems may be the way to go. For under $150 a small system can be put into individual homes that supplies up to 4,000 liters of highly filtered (bacteria and virus free) water. Replacement cartridges cost about $30 a set, and will provide another 4,000 liters of clean water. Here is a link to a good source of water filters: http://www.filtersfast.com/.
The village school system ends at the eighth grade. After this they are required to go to a city located about 2 hours boat ride down river, which costs money. Many villagers see education as a way to better employment, therefore a way in which to have a better life. But education is also the key to a better understanding of the world around them. Better education is essential for the people of the village to make informed decisions in their lives and for the village. To be able to understand "why" sustainability is important is one of the educational goals. To just do what the "scientists" and outside people say without understanding is a dangerous lack of control.
A whole website in itself could be, and many are, devoted to composting latrines. Basically these work by dying out the waste while it is being decomposed. This process kills almost all of the biological contaminants, which may then safely be used to fertilize plants. This could greatly help the problem of depleting the nutrients from the soil, avoid the use of fertilizers, and protect the water supplies from contamination.
For more information, please visit these resource:
For a general overview of ecological sanitation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_sanitation
An incredibly informative guide,http://www.drytoilet.org/pdf/Sanitation_Guide.pdf
An example of an indigenous community (also in Colombia) that is implementing composting toilets,
A company who makes a very easy to use composting toilet, http://www.ecosan.co.za/product_info.html