Mano a Mano is currently in the process of building a demonstration and training center on the outskirts of Cochabamba in El Abra that will teach subsistence farmers best practices for water project maintenance and productive use of water, as well as train the heavy machine operators and diesel mechanics who build these projects.

On the same site, we are also building offices and warehouses for 3 of our 4 counterpart organizations (Internacional, Nuevo Mundo, and Mano a Mano Bolivia; Apoyo Aereo will continue to be based out of its hangar at the Cochabamba airport). When these projects are complete we will have one central location for all of our organizations in Bolivia.

Goals of the Project

As Mano a Mano’s number of infrastructure projects  throughout Bolivia has grown to more than 300, ensuring that these existing projects last and the services provided by them are continually improved becomes increasingly important. Continuing education and training has been an integral component of our health clinics from the beginning, and we are now working on providing similar training in our water projects.

This project has two goals: 1) ensure that subsistence farmers attain maximum benefits from water projects that Mano a Mano completes in partnership with them, and 2) increase the organization’s capacity to implement successful agricultural water projects over the long term.

Mano a Mano’s extensive experience in constructing agricultural water projects has led to increased incomes, greater food security, and improved diet for thousands of subsistence farm families. Evaluation results show that farmers are eager to experiment with new crops; want to learn to raise, consume, and sell fruits and vegetables that are new to them; and are determined to maximize the use of their water.

A farmer in Omereque shows off his crops. Mano a Mano has built 153 ponds in the Omereque area.

As they experiment with new options, they recognize the need for more training and ask Mano a Mano to assist them to obtain it. Working within the centuries-old system of community leadership that is prevalent throughout rural Bolivia, Mano a Mano will invite leaders to travel to Cochabamba for two-day workshops through which they will learn best maintenance practices for their ponds and cisterns; sound agricultural practices for selection, planting, and rotation of crops for their soil and weather conditions; and to improve their diet with more nutritious and varied foods. Initially, Mano a Mano will offer training, one community at a time, to the 45 communities in which water projects have been completed or are currently underway and will then begin to include communities that request new water projects.

Components of the Demonstration and Training Center

To increase Mano a Mano’s capacity to respond to water project requests from dozens of communities on the waiting list, we plan to build a shop for heavy equipment operators and diesel mechanics  to provide training.

The training center will include these demonstration project components:

  • Example of a farm pond that collects rain and runoff water for crop irrigation and livestock. Ponds incorporate polymax membrane to reduce water loss.
  • Cistern with water collection system that harvests rain water for drinking, household use, and garden irrigation
  • Vegetable and fruit gardens

and these training project components:

  • Operating shop for training heavy equipment personnel
  • Training room for agriculture-related and equipment-related classes
  • Four basic sleeping rooms for rural participants
  • Bathrooms with showers
  • Kitchen facilities for preparation of meals for participants and for cooking classes that will be taught by a nutritionist

Construction Photos

Training Center under construction

Clearing tree stumps from the sample water pond and demonstration garden site

You can see more pictures of the progress here.