Plastic pipe, fittings association teams with Honduran officials

After Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras in 1998, the village of Colinas de Suiza was established to accommodate refugees displaced from lower lying areas. The biggest challenge facing the village is a lack of water supplies. Members and supporters of the Plastic Pipe & Fittings Association have united to bring a dependable water delivery and irrigation system to the village. Consequently, the Municipality of Villanueva has agreed to also contribute the well, pump and labor for installation...

• Partnership aims to enhance quality of life for small village

COLINAS DE SUIZA, Honduras, March 5, 2008 -- After Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras in 1998, the Honduran federal government established the village of Colinas de Suiza to accommodate refugees displaced from lower lying areas. The 100+ acre tract of land is located in the Municipality of Villanueva, which is approximately 20 km south of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and has a current population of over 8000 (~1300 families) and has capacity for up to 10,000 people.

Since the biggest challenge facing the village is a lack of water supplies, members and supporters of the Plastic Pipe & Fittings Association (PPFA) united to bring a dependable water delivery and irrigation system to the village. PPFA members and supporters participating in the program include: Georg Fischer Sloane, Hayward Industrial Products, IPEX Inc., IPS Corporation, JM Eagle Manufacturing Company, LASCO Fittings Inc, Mueller Industries Inc, NIBCO INC, Shintech Inc, and Silver-Line Plastics.

PPFA became involved in the project when Dr. David R. Muñoz from the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) and his students and faculty began seeking funding options. That's when David Chasis, an alumnus of CSM and a member of the Plastic Pipe and Fitting Association (PPFA), got in touch with Dr. Muñoz about another issue and was informed about the Colinas de Suiza project. Chasis became interested in the project and convinced the membership of the PPFA to contribute. After it became clear that the PPFA was going to support the project, the Municipality of Villanueva agreed to also contribute the well, pump and labor for installation.

Dr. Muñoz was particularly attracted to the project because it could be integrated into a new minor program called Humanitarian Engineering, which involves working on projects that require the use of engineering skills in addition to an enhanced awareness of culture and societal differences to sustainably improve the lives of the underserved throughout the world.

People there currently spend 1/3 to 1/2 of their income for water. This cost can be significantly reduced by providing water pumped from a nearby aquifer to a large storage tank and distribute it by gravity to each lot. The problem is compounded because the villagers earn an average income of $6 - $8/day while working in nearby sugarcane fields or in clothing, materials or food factories.

An additional component of sustainability was to build capacity among the people by providing training in the various aspects of the project. For the Water Department workers and other interested villagers, instructional DVD and booklets were provided that offered oral and written information (in Spanish) so that others interested in learning about the process would have access to the knowledge. Hands-on training also were provided so that workers and students could begin working together to lay the first of the pipe in the village. The piping configuration provided by the student designers also left ample opportunities for the village leaders and Water Department workers to contribute to decisions on exact pipe locations and flow control solutions. This acceptance of local indigenous knowledge also enhances the project ownership, allowing all parties to learn from each other.

The Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA) is a national trade association, based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and is comprised of member companies that manufacture plastic piping, fittings and solvent cements for plumbing and related applications, or supply raw materials, ingredients or machinery for the manufacturing process.

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