Green Cross Bolivia's (GC Bolivia) Rainwater Harvesting and Ecological Latrines Project deals with the general water shortage and inadequate sanitary conditions endemic in families from the municipality of San Antonio de Lomerío, Bolivia.
In 2003, GC Bolivia volunteers and the Body of Peace first noticed this issue when helping the indigenous population develop crafts and promote ethno and ecotourism.
The programme had the support of Green Cross Japan, who helped finance 13 ecological latrines and 14 rainwater tanks that were immediately made available to the families.
The International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance, in Geneva, was approached, and they provided funding for the construction of 25 new rainwater tanks, training the indigenous population construction with relevant technologies, and giving basic sanitation lessons to families.
In carrying out this project, 18 people are now fully trained in the construction of rainwater tanks and ecological latrines. Furthermore, 37 native families have been educated on water purification, personal hygiene, and other elements of basic sanitation. And thanks to the initiative, 1980 people now have access to clean water. These people are now beginning to share their knowledge with other communities. The rainwater tanks and the ecological latrines are an important and environmentally sound alternative because they use simple technology. Not only can this appropriate technology be applied to poorer communities, or those that have a water shortage or drought, but also to communities in bigger towns and cities.
The rainwater tanks and ecological latrines are relatively simple systems to handle and have low build costs; but they yield high returns and improve the condition of the environment significantly. Since the initial start-up period, the population has independently improved the construction techniques of the ecological latrines by using newer products that have generated further ideas. The next step is to bring rainwater tanks and ecological latrines into urban housing.