Survey the barren, rough terrain of the Altiplano region - where rock and sparse grass predominate. Here, at 13,000 feet above sea level, in a remote arid valley, where the Andes range surges to its highest and widest, you’ll find the little subsistence farming village of Pampoyo, Bolivia. Pampoyo is home to 80 families making their living with mostly potatoes and llama. They are Quechua – descendants of what remained of the mighty Inca Empire after 16th century Spanish conquest. In more recent times, toxic runoff from surrounding tin and copper mines has contaminated the villagers’ primary water supply. Their river is contaminated with high levels of lead, silica, and sulfur creating a hazard to people, animals, and crops.
· Bolivia is the poorest country on the continent and still suffers socioeconomic disparities
· Pampoyo is isolated having no electricity, water, or sanitation systems and does not benefit from local mining
· Having lost their sole visiting physician, the infant mortality rate at Pampoyo reached 50% before help arrived
· Reflecting on the mining industry and the disconnection from urban developments, The Pampoyo people say of themselves, “they have forgotten us”
What One Person Can Do...
· Support the work of Infrastructure providers like Engineers without Borders or Engineering for Change - they build appropriate technology solutions to solve water, sanitation, and other basic needs gaps
· Encourage young people to study sustainable engineering
· Volunteer your technical skills with an Engineers Without Borders project to implement low-tech solutions yielding high benefits to the health and welfare of people in the developing world
· Ensure the people of Pampoyo are not forgotten