On a visit to Sancayani earlier this month, we were happy to see that our water reservoir project built nearly a decade ago is currently filled with water. Area farmers are able to have year-round access to water.

Sancayani Water Reservoir

In 2012, Mano a Mano dedicated a large water reservoir project in Sancayani, Bolivia. Sancayani is a rural community in the department of Cochabamba high in the Bolivian Andes – about 14,000 feet above sea level.

This water project consists of two large water reservoirs, Sallamani Chico and Sallamani Grande. Rainwater and snow melt are collected via a channel into the Sallamani Chico reservoir first, which can hold about 250,000 cubic meters of water. Once the Sallamani Chico reservoir is filled, excess water flows into the Sallamani Grande reservoir, which can hold about 350,000 cubic meters of water. The project provides water access to 9,600 people.

Beginning in 1950, Sancayani farmers attempted to use their picks and shovels to dig a channel along the side of their mountain, hoping to direct spring water and snow melt to the land they cultivated, and thus increase their crop yields. Unfortunately, the area closest to them was filled with rock which they could not penetrate with hand tools. After numerous failures and a nearly disastrous landslide, they concluded that lack of engineering expertise and heavy machinery that could safely dig and stabilize the terrain would force them to abandon their dream of having sufficient water to raise crops to feed their families and sell produce in urban markets. Their Valle Alto neighbors told Mano a Mano  staff that they had been they had been trying for 15 years to find a means to channel the abundant, high mountain spring water into the river so they could have water during the dry season. When these subsistence farmers heard that Mano a Mano had begun to build water reservoirs, they approached staff of Mano a Mano  with a plea for help in constructing reservoirs and channels. “Water is life”, they said. “Without water we cannot live”.

Building water projects is hard work; these reservoirs take years and thousands of hours of collaborative efforts by the community, local government, and Mano a Mano staff. The Sancayani project was particularly difficult due to its location (it is more than 14,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, with constant fog, mud, and sub-freezing temperatures).

But it was ultimately completed, and continues to provide access to water nearly a decade later.

Sancayani Water Reservoir – Photos

Recent Mano a Mano Water Projects