Fog nets in Bolivia - Covid-19 causes project interruption

The global spread of the corona pandemic has not stopped at Bolivia's borders either. As early as mid-March 2020 the health emergency was declared - the corona virus paralysed public life. The installation of the first fog collectors in the Alto Veladero project region, planned for April, had to be postponed indefinitely.

Clean drinking water from fog collectors
Together with the WaterFoundation and the Oswald Foundation, the Munich Re Foundation has been supporting the development of fog nets in Bolivia since autumn 2019. We are working closely with the northern Spanish aid organisation Zabalketa, which has already gained a great deal of experience in the use of fog nets in Peru and Bolivia. Zabalketa won our tender and initiated the project.
In the Alto Veladero region at the foot of the eastern Bolivian Andes, there is virtually no rain at all from April to November. Rivers and wells dry up, drinking water needs to be rationed and has to be collected by taking long hides from remote mountain springs to the widely scattered villages. In addition to the lack of water, the region suffers from water pollution. The 14 new fog collectors will supply drinking water to the school and the villagers of Alto Veladero as well as to the population of the village of Sivingalito. The new fog-net system will not only ensure a continuous and reliable water supply in the region, but also improve water quality. In addition to providing drinking water, the water obtained can also be used in agriculture for livestock breeding and plant irrigation. It is urgently needed everywhere.
Arrival of the construction materials in Vallegrande
Everything looked very good at the beginning of the year. In December 2019, the large material transport for 14 modern CloudFishers, consisting of meshes, galvanised aluminium poles, gutters and much more, set off on the long journey from Hohenbrunn in Bavaria to the highlands of Bolivia. After some logistical surprises and challenges as well as long customs negotiations, the materials finally arrived safely in the municipality of Vallegrande in March 2020 and were received by our local project partner, the Instituto de Capacitación del Oriente (ICO). However, due to the pandemic, the construction materials had to be stored by ICO and have been waiting for their use ever since.
Arrival of the construction materials in Vallegrande
Due to the pandemic, the construction materials for 14 CloudFishers were stored by ICO in Vallegrande and have been waiting for their use since then.
If everything had gone according to plan, industrial designer Peter Trautwein from the WaterFoundation would have installed the first fog collectors together with the ICO team at the end of April 2020. The ICO team was already well prepared: The villagers and chairmen of the water committees were informed about the upcoming measures, the individual water requirements of the families were determined, the consent of the landowners was obtained and much more. But Covid-19 thwarted the plans.
The water obtained can also be used in agriculture for livestock breeding and plant irrigation.
ICO staff measure the course of the water pipes leading from the fog collectors to the villages.
Covid-19 stops project work
Unfortunately, the economic, social and political situation in Bolivia makes the country particularly vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The measures imposed have brought the country's economy to a virtual standstill. Hospitals soon reached the limits of their capacity and the health system has been overburdened ever since. The political situation is unstable due to the repeated postponement of new elections. In the project region Alto Veladero, the first people were already infected in March 2020, and since then there have been repeated new infections. Our project partner ICO has made its office and training rooms in Vallegrande available to the local health authorities. The facilities will be used for the care of infected persons. At the moment, the employees work mainly in their home office and try to support the local population as much as possible.
In view of the current situation in the country, it is unfortunately not possible to set up the fog collectors on site at present. We are in close contact with our project partners Zalbalketa and ICO. As soon as the situation allows it, the construction of the collectors will start. Then the people in the Alto Veladero region can finally benefit from the fog net project and drink clean fog water.
22 September 2020
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