Water access is an issue that communities around Lima continue to face. Development in the slums of Lima happens backwards, in that people move in and then utilities like electricity and water are installed, often times taking years to get a steady access.
The best option in Lima for water is connecting to SEDPAL, the cityâ€™s water system, however, many of the communities MEDLIFE works with lack the property rights and thus the legal designation as communities and are not eligible for water from SEDPAL. Communities without access to the city water supply, rely on water tank trucks to visit and deliver water.
Without a steady supply, those living on the outskirts of Lima use tanks and barrels to store their water. Sometimes, the containers were used in the past to store non-potable water or chemicals. These containers also run the risk of contamination from bacteria as they are often not adequately sealed and reused without cleaning.
People will buy water directly from the truck and fill in water tanks to use throughout the days between visits. Fabiolo Rosales, a resident of Nadine, lives at the top of hill of her community at the base of a wall built to keep settlements from spreading onto private property. When looking over the wall, she sees the wealthier districts of Lima with access to the city water supply and the occasional swimming pool dotting the cityscape.
â€œWe buy our water for 25 soles and we pay much more than people living on the other side,â€ Rosales said.
Rosales experience is not uncommon. Buying water from the trucks can cost up to 12 times as much as public water utilities. Along with the money, there is the time spent waiting for a water truck to come and the labor of carrying the water back home. The poor truly pay the most for water.
The problem Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza faces is the road that leads to the community, is narrow and dangerous for the large water trucks to drive up, so often they do not. MEDLIFE worked to build a water reservoir for the community to safely store larger quantities of water between the infrequent visits of water trucks. Residents worry though, that during wet winter season, the truck will not be able to make it up the road.
â€œThe water truck doesnâ€™t come here often. Sometimes we need to wait for two days starting at 5 am, all day long, waiting for the water truck to come,â€ Maria Salas, a resident and community leader in Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza said.
The next step in Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza is building a road. MEDLIFE aims to bring more stability in access to water in Laderas de Nuevas Esperanza. With a water reservoir more water can be stored safely and for longer periods of time. A road would bring more frequent trips from water trucks as well as greater access to the community for other services.