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 water scarcity has caused people to migrate to other communities and municipalities. Jhobanna spent 10 years experiencing a lack of nearby, reliable water.
"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 – representing 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 systems 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!"
And that’s what it’s about – transforming communities.