Ñoneno and Yawapade Villages are remote villages in the Orellana Province of East Ecuador. Ñoneno Village, with 162 inhabitants, is only accessible by boat on the Shiripuno River. Yawapade Village, with 144 inhabitants, is located near Ñoneno, can be accessed by a compacted gravel earth road and the nearest town, Coca, is 4 hours’ drive away.
Originally there were believed to be six villages in Ecuadorian Amazonas, but through fragmentation these have grown into 44 settlements with populations of varied sizes up to around 160. Ñoneno and Yawapade are two of these settlements. Yawapade has one source of clean water – a shallow creek, some eight hundred metres from the village through jungle and very undulating ground. The village has no electricity. Its population is around eighty persons. Ñoneno Village is a very remote village in dense forest that is only accessible by boat on the Shiripuno.
The Waorani are hunters and gatherers who have lived in the Amazon Rainforest since before written history. Their traditional territory includes the area now known as Yasuni National Park and Biosphere Reserve, in Ecuador. Waorani (also spelled “Huaorani” and “Waodani”) means humanos (humans or people) in the language spoken by the Waorani, and either spelling can be used to represent the same word. Anyone who is not a Waorani they call ‘Cowode’– savages and cannibals. Spanish is commonly spoken amongst those Waorani who live in the protected area.
The Waorani are legendary, even among other indigenous peoples in Ecuador’s Amazon region, for their extensive knowledge of the rainforest and its diverse plant and animal life. They are also famous for their hunting skills, and long spears and blowguns. By and large their contact with the Quechua or any other outsiders have not been notably peaceable, especially from the intrusion of international oil companies into their land. In many areas water systems have been polluted by crude oil and chemicals thanks to irresponsible oil drilling.
The communities at both Ñoneno and Yawapade live off a diet of yucca – usually boiled and mashed or roasted, plantains, a little fruit, fish soup, guinea pig, monkey stew and occasionally rice and potatoes. The people of Ñoneno make a little income from selling handicrafts to the Shiripuno Lodge and occasionally some of the villagers work at the Lodge which is three hours down river by canoe. For any shopping the people have to go upriver for two hours to the Shiripuno Centre.
A deep sump was formed in the creek at the extraction point and lined with a tarpaulin, allowing the creek to fill the sump to a sufficient depth to allow the 6.7 horsepower diesel pump to operate efficiently. A Marble Sand Screen Filter was situated on a timber platform formed from logs and decked by planking. A 63mm distribution pipe was fitted around the manifold leading to a 50mmm flexible mains pipe running through the jungle falling just short of the first dwellings. A 63 mm pipe then carried on towards the dwellings passing through two in-line disc filters and chlorinators up to a fifteen hundred litre storage tank situated on a timber elevated tower. Distribution by gravity continued to all dwellings and the school by 25 mm pipes and fitted with taps.
It was calculated that the source’s flow would produce 216 litres per minute; a sufficient yield to service the village and school. There is also potential for the village to expand, with new plots for dwellings already established and now having stand-pipes provided.
Despite living on the edge of the Shiripuno River, the local community is unable to drink this water as it has been polluted by oil and chemicals. A water system was installed in 2006, but this is no longer in working order. Instead, people are forced to draw their water from inland creeks which are often some distance from the village. The creeks are also very shallow and so it is difficult to extract water from them without also collecting mud and forest debris.
After a thorough inspection of the village by a local contractor – and in consultation with the village – it was decided that the best solution would be to repair the existing system. Work began with all equipment being transported to the village by canoe!
The existing system of concrete chambers was tested and found not to work so 63mm pipe work was re-laid using only half of the existing chambers with the remaining chambers being redundant. The new pipes ran to the pump house via a deep filtered circular concrete ground level storage tank some five metres deep. A new 6.7 horse-power diesel pump and Marble Screen Filter were fitted in the pump house and pushed the water up to the existing storage tank. The three in-line inspection chambers en route to the village were repaired and re-used leading to two disc filters and two chlorinators before serving the first dwellings. A 25mm pipe was fitted to each dwelling and to the school.
The clean water will improve and enhance the quality of life of the people of Ñoneno and Yawapade. Water-borne diseases were a significant problem and common complaints included gastrointestinal infections, diarrhoea, parasitism, respiratory infections, kidney disorders, skin disease and anaemia. Malaria and conjunctivitis were also present. It is hoped that the incidence of these health problems will now be reduced due to access to clean water. Previously time taken to collect water from the creeks and carry it back up to the village was around an hour and so having water direct to their houses will have a significant impact, especially for the women.
The communities are also hoping to attract eco-tourism as a way of protecting their traditional lifestyle whilst recognising the benefits of collaboration with the modern world. Clean water, from an efficient system, should facilitate this aim and may encourage more of the young people to remain in the villages.
Now, not only do the villagers have re-newed access to clean, treated water, bringing the obvious health benefits, but the water is delivered to each of their homes, meaning that the arduous task of physically hauling it huge distances through the jungle has been eliminated.
Our sincere thanks to all of the Bournemouth Ladies whose fundraising efforts – over the course of a year – made this project possible.
Project Date: Oct/Nov 2012
Beneficiaries: Yawapade: 144; Noneno: 162