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Transforming Communities

It takes three hours to travel from Cochabamba, a city in central Bolivia where the Water For People team is based, to Puka Puka, a community within the municipality of Pocona. The road this time of year is pleasant – small springs between hillsides reflect an array of greens in the surrounding vegetation. It’s impossible to resist pausing to appreciate the stunning landscape.  

Doña Jhobanna has lived in Puka Puka for 10 years. In her opinion, the vista isn’t always this pleasant. From August to December, the surroundings change. The browns of dry leaves overtake the green, and worryingly, the water becomes scarce. This seasonal water scarcity has continued to intensify, leading people to migrate to other communities and municipalities.

"We had two springs we used for water, but they have dried up. The mayor brought water in a cistern once a week, but it was not enough. To wash clothes, we went to the river, but it was far away." 

Today, Jhobanna is the president of the local council in Pocona and represents over 9,000 people. She doesn’t want any of them to experience what it’s like not to have water.  

A joint investment between the Pocona Municipal Government, the Puka Puka community, and Water For People led to the construction of a water system. With training and support, Jhobanna and those in Puka Puka have ownership over the system operation, maintenance, and water source protection.  

Jhobanna now sees a different type of change, starting with right in her home. "My daughters feel very happy," she shares. "They can just open the pipe and use the water!" 

Climate change affects water and sanitation access for people through more devastating weather events – such as the intensifying dry seasons and droughts in Puka Puka. Water For People partners with communities and governments to ensure water sources are protected, infrastructure can handle more extreme weather events, and funds are set aside for ongoing operation and maintenance.

Water For People is promoting strong water resource management and protection. In Bolivia, this includes teams leading strategic, native tree planting to promote strong, sustainable, resilient environments so that water sources are protected and access can continue into the future.

It’s through this work and partnerships that communities like Puka Puka are transformed – for generations to come.