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PCV Nathan Arnold in Panama recently provided an update about his Peace Corps project to build arborloo latrines and promote better sanitation in Cemaco, Tierra Collectiva of the Darien Province. Nathan received $1,000 from NorCal Grants in 2013 as partial funding for his Peace Corps Partnership Project. The following information was edited from his report:
In November and December 2013 the community held meetings to reestablish who would lead the different tasks, including materials transport, seat and platform construction, and management of the tree nursery. The people chose the Borojo fruit tree for planting in the first round of filled pits and the Cocobolo hardwood tree to replace what was cut. Then they waited for the end of the long rainy season to begin building. The majority of materials were shipped to the nearest coastal town beach on a Panamanian sea merchant’s boat.
Cemaco is a village of about 300 inhabitants. 30 latrines were constructed for 29 homes, bringing the latrine ownership percentage up to 78% of all houses (nine latrines had already existed). Participants also attended two final talks on sanitary practices and latrine maintenance, and they received young Borojo fruit trees to one day transplant above their filled pits. The project officially closed on June 6, 2014 and it was a success!
Nathan completed his PC service on June 29th. A replacement PCV from the environmental health sector will arrive in Cémaco at the end of August to continue working with community members. Nathan added, “Currently, this project represents the only Peace Corps partnered Arborloo project in Panama, so it will be interesting to see how successful the community adoption is over the long term. It will hopefully serve as a model for future projects in communities with similar environmental challenges.”