Building a better world, one community at a time

Bua, Ecuador

Sustainable Growth for the Tsachila People

Location: Ecuador, near Santo Domingo
Need: Sanitation, water and related school needs
Partner: Yanapuma Foundation (Quito)
Status: The team successfully completed construction of a bank of six composting toilets for the Abraham Calazacon school serving 250 students. The team will await further requests for assistance from Yanapuma staff for the Bua community.  The team plans to continue checking on the structure and composting system as part of additional trips to Ecuador. At this point, the team has re-focused to work in the Puca Chicta community of Ecuador.
Project Lead: Kathy Grantz

Tsachila Family


The community of Bua is one of 7 remaining communities of the Tsachila culture.  The unique and distinctive culture lives on in its own territory close to the city of Santo Domingo, Ecuador.  Bua has around 700 members, primarily subsistence farmers. The school house in Bua, which serves over 250 children, is in a state of disrepair and lacks the basic necessities for a satisfactory education (water supply, sanitation, sufficient space, current curriculum). Rural school such as it are severerly underfunded by the government.

Yanapuma, an Ecuadorian non-governmental agency (NGO) works in the Bua community to promote education and sustainable development.   Yanapuma raises funds for projects by operating a cultural exchange/spanish-english school in Ecuador.  This organization has identified the school as a potential EWB project and solicited our chapter's help. 

Site Assessment

In March 2008, five members of EWB Portland spent two weeks in the community of Bua performing a variety of site assessment activities.  The team focused on building a relationship with community members and Yanapuma, assessing community health, evaluating the current sanitation and water supply infrastructure,  acquiring data for design activities, and investigating local material and equipment suppliers.  The team also had a chance to learn a lot about the Tsachila culture.

Assessment Travel Team

Design and Implementation

Based on the results of the site assessment trip and feedback from Yanapuma and the community, potential improvements were priorized. Key concerns are lack of clean water, shortages of water in dry months, malfunction of the existing septic tank, and allowance for sustainable growth in both water supply and sanitation, with sanitation rising to the top of the list of priorities. 

Over the summer of 2008, the team worked hard to design a bank of composting toilets, fiting the topography of the site and the needs of the school.  This process led to an implementation trip in September 2008!  More details and a slideshow from this trip are now online. 

Future Phases

The team is committed to a long-term relationship with the community of Bua and the Abrahim Calazacon school.  Future project phases may include:

  • Rainwater harvesting,
  • Well development and protection,
  • Increased water storage capacity,
  • More composting toilets,
  • Engineered wetland systems, and
  • Others

Tsachila Boy

Finished Toilets


Bua Ecuador - EWB-Yanapuma.pdf564.88 KB
512_Bua,Ecuador_20080929.pdf234.95 KB