For years, 36-year-old Delia Muriel Torrico would walk to a nearby spring early in the morning and fill jugs of drinking water while her animals drank from the same source or a ditch close by. So when the 63-family community of Uchuchi Kancha in the municipality of Tiraque Bolivia decided to construct a gravity-fed water system with household taps in 2013, she was eager to participate.
Community members were required to do their part of the manual labor to earn their connection to the system.
“It did not matter whether you were man or woman, everyone helped dig,” she says.
Delia has been raising her two daughters, Daysi and Elizabeth, on her own for years. She is a farmer, cultivating potatoes and fava beans to sell in the local market, and also grows oats, barley, and alfalfa for her various livestock that she breeds and sells. Another source of income is selling milk.
When the water system was ready to be used, the entire town celebrated. “The first few days we were very happy to have water throughout the day, and that is very helpful especially for women who are doing the cooking, washing clothes, bathing [our children]; it didn’t matter the time, we could always do it.” Each family pays based on their consumption (determined by micro-meters), with a minimum of 5 bolivianos. The community even pitched in to do the labor to construct the household connection for an elderly woman who wasn’t’ able to work herself, and don’t charge her a tariff for water — a small sacrifice to achieve full water coverage.
Delia’s not done investing in the future yet. She’s in the process of building a kitchen for her home, and makes sure her daughters attend school regularly, something she wasn’t able to do as a girl. “I want my daughters to study so they will not suffer as I have suffered,” she says. “I am happy because my daughters now aren’t getting sick, and we have water all day since the water system was inaugurated; we have never had a failure in service.”