International P E A C E Projects
People • Education • Art • Community • Environment
Learn About Our Projects
When a borehole well is drilled, the walk for water that used to take everyone three hours, now takes 15 minutes, and the water is safe to drink. The extra time available in each day, thanks to the new water source is used for better hygiene, cooking, starting a vegetable garden, studying for school, tending to the children and pursuing income generating activities for a secure future.
Costs and benefits for each well
People Served by each borehole well 1,200
Cost to drill a borehole well $7,000.00
Cost per person per year for the 40-year life of the well $0.14
Cost per person per day to enjoy fresh, abundant water $0.000036
Value of lives saved and illness averted Incalculable!
Since 2008, International PEACE Projects has independently, and with our partner agencies, funded 16 borehole wells in rural Zambia. Each of our wells are simple, durable hand-pump systems serving 1200 people who live in tiny villages disbursed through the beautiful countryside.
We work with our strong local partners, the SLYPAUL Foundation, to build and maintain our wells. Sylvester and Paul are environmental educators - community volunteers addressing the social and environmental challenges in Zambia. Traveling on foot and on bicycle through rough and wild bush country, Sly and Paul locate our borehole well sites. Other times, village elders trek many miles to the village of Mfuwe near the beautiful South Luangwa National Park to meet with Sly and Paul and tell them stories, sometimes tragic, about their daily search for water.
When the wells are drilled, Sly and Paul travel the circuit of wells, over many hundreds of kilometers, every year to inspect each well, teach environmental concepts to teachers and students and support community farm projects.
Imagine the challenge of transporting borehole well drilling equipment to villages in the bush where there are no roads and very rough terrain. When we arrive with our huge drill rigs, borehole well casings, water tanks, concrete and five or more staff employed by our drillers, children and adults are wide-eyed with awe!
Villagers have prepared the borehole well site for us, fabricated brick to lay around the well and built fences using grass and bush-wood to protect the well from marauding wildlife.
When a cluster of villages gets a water project, it is life changing.
Please read Sylvester Mbaama's letter about this transformation in our Blog.
In both Zambia and Nicaragua, environmental education is a priority. We introduce environmental concepts in a number of ways:
Science curricula - In classrooms in Nicaragua and Zambia, children do not have books. Nor do they have access to libraries or have a book of their own in their homes. Our environmental education curriculum gives teachers tools to teach science by using the nature all around them as an outdoor classroom. Classrooms are sometimes under the baobab tree or within a cinder block structure with dirt or cement floors. Often chairs and desks are absent and teachers have no books to read to children, no resource materials to use as teaching tools. Some teachers have white boards and chldren copy all day long. In other situations, even white boards are absent, and children sit politely an listed while teachers lecture. Our clean water school curriculum gives teachers skills to lead science investigations outside. There are art, math and natural history lessons with a flower. Outdoor education invites students to think creatively and observe like a scientist.
Soil conservation/organic farming methods - Our school yard farms create learning laboratories for children as we prepare the soil and plant seeds that emerge and go through their life cycle. If we are growing food plants, children learn the connection between healthy soil and healthy food and healthy bodies. Creating the farms also teach children about environmental issues and make them keen observers of the quality of soil and water and its impact on all life.
Our murals transform walls into wonders. They are vast – some extending 50 yards or more. They encircle schools where thousands upon thousands of children attend classes – sometimes three sessions in each day. Within the walls of the schools there are no books. Only white board and notebooks. Children spend their days copying words that teachers write on the white board. When the mural emerges – it becomes a teaching tool. It arouses curiosity and questions. It is simply beautiful. Children take pride in their murals. They become advocates for schoolyard recycling, trash pick-up and for nurturing farms within the schools' battered playgrounds.
The water filters designed by Ron Rivera and Potters for Peace eliminate 99.88 per cent of most water borne disease agents. They are pressed ceramic buckets made with a mix of local terra cotta clay and sawdust or rice husks. The fired ceramic buckets are filled with water and then placed in five gallon plastic or ceramic receptacles fitted with lids and faucets which catch the clean water dripping through the filters. These simple filters save lives.
Potters for Peace does not make the filters. Nicaragua’s ceramic artisans do. Potters for Peace has created a network of potters that profit from production of these life saving filters, while preserving the tradition of using local skills and materials to survive.
International PEACE Projects purchases the filters from these artisans and distributes them to village schools, health clinics and hospitals where dirty surface water poses serious health risks.
Traveling to the mountains of San Marcos in a very ancient truck one rainy Nicaraguan day, we brought back to our headquarters in Granada, a load of filters which we sold at inflated prices to Expatriates, using our profits to replenish our supply and allow us to donate filters where they are most needed.
Finca Vive Verde
Mombacho Volcano exploded long ago. On the flanks of this soaring volcanic cone, fertile land is worked by farmers who live in tiny plank or plastic box homes without plumbing. Chickens scratch, pigs loll about and the air is fresh and luminous.
Farmers plow the dark soil with yoked oxen and wooden plows. There is no fossil fuel used in the production of beans, rice, yucca and melons which, if the rains come, are bountiful.
International PEACE Projects owns a small farm on Mombacho Volcano - called Finca Vive Verde. There we collaborate with BioNica (University of Central America) and Grow the Soil Seed Network providing training in best practices in sustainable small-scale agriculture-particularly carbon-intensive methods to develop and maintain soil fertility. We envision buildig out Finca Vive Verde to produce seed that will diversity supplies of seed available to small farmers and to make them resilient in the face of climate change
We are experimenting with indigenous farming practices. We use the no-till method and retain crop residues on planting beds and utilize inter-planting to reduce plant pests and attract pollinators. Many of these practices were lost when first-world farm advisers began their work in the 1800's. Local farmers are curious about our experiments and sharing our practices is the easy part. It takes time to convince people that these methods have the potential to bring long-term improvements to production and protect the resilience of their land.
It is a fascinating journey and a work in progress; as we learn about commodity pricing, peanut pod-rot, supply chain economics and the many other joys and challenges of farming.
Nicaragua is blessed with two of the largest fresh water lakes in the world. One, Lake Managua, is dead. The other, Lake Cocibocca (or Lake Nicaragua) is on the brink. The cause is unregulated industrial uses on the lakeshores, deforestation of surrounding mountains, the fact that sewage and toxic waste disposal systems are not in place, and perhaps most visable - is the habit of people dumping their waste in the 16 different streams that meander through Granada to Lake Cocibocca.
In the dry seasons, the waste, bulging plastic bags, solvents, paint, construction waste and worse, sits and waits. When the wet season comes on May 15th the fury of the monsoon rains pushes all this debris and toxicity into the Lake.
We are working on this problem of stream contamination one arroyo at a time.
Our first effort was on Calle Nuevo, a street in a typical neighborhood where horse carts and yoked-oxen make way for chicken buses and ratty taxis. The arroyo in the Calle Nuevo neighborhood crosses under a bridge where people habitually dropped their trash and carraton drivers backed up their carts and threw tons of concrete, rubble, brick and boards into the water. The water runs like an inky soup.
Yet folks in the neighborhood recall that as children, they collected fish in the stream until one day, when they ran through the water during play, their skin burned and blistered. Someone had thrown acid into the waters. Things have only gone downhill since then. The arroyo banks were stripped of vegetation and eroded to rock. Tangles of trash clogged the big circular pipes that channeled the water under the bridge.
We created a mural of stunning impact on the walls of the bridge.
We used the faces of neighborhood children and adults as our subjects as we painted images of people recycling, cleaning up arroyo trash and doing laundry in a manner that contained the detergent run-off.
Next we spent a weekend hauling trash from the creek and enlisting those same carraton drivers to take the trash to the city dump; requiring that they show us their dump receipts before we gave them the $100 cordobas ($.80) to dump their next load.
Next we rented a truck and went up to the Pueblo Blancos - five mountain villages where the homes and shops are whitewashed, and where many nurseries cultivate food and floral crops. We filled the truck with baby mango, avocado, banana, plantain, papaya and cashew trees. Down the mountain we came and began excavating little terraces for our new arroyo farm (finca).
We poured concrete on the dirt sidewalk along the new murals and all of us placed our hands in the concrete - leaving our indelible print of commitment to reviving this sick little arroyo.
To my delight and surprise, the next day, neighbors had erected a sign in the arroyo proclaiming that this creek was the pride of the Calle Nuevo Community, and asking that no litter be thrown there!
Today our farm in the arroyo thrives. It produces food, creates shade and is a playground for children. Litter continues to flow downstream in flood pulses, but there is no litter being dropped over the bridge. Neighborhood-watch teams, many of them little children who were mere toddlers when this project started, guard this little finca paradise with love.
Water Quality Testing
A simple agar dish and test tube are the incubators to detect the presence of the bacteria Escherichia coli (e. coli) in water contaminated with fecal matter. We use a test kit developed by International Water and Health Alliance, of Davis, CA, to teach water awareness so that people are safe where they obtain their drinking water, bath water or to recreate.
Children enjoy the suspense of watching to see if bacteria grow in from water samples and help determine if the samples carry dangerous or harmless bacteria.
We train NGO's and school teachers to use the test kits in the (which are distributed free of charge, thanks to your donations) in the classroom and at community meetings. Test kits highlight the connection between benefits of clean water and the consequences of unsafe water and waterborne disease to human health and environmental degradation.
In the classroom and in the field, these simple water quality tests teach science, build awareness and save lives.