Compone, Peru


Compone is a community of 2,000 in the Andean Mountains of southern Peru, 16 miles west of the city of Cuzco. It is a traditional Peruvian highlands farming community with grain crops, livestock and dairy products as the main sources of livelihood.

In the spring of 2008 , a development engineer working with the Association of Conservation of the Amazon Basin (ACCA) approached EWB-UMCP to propose a water sanitation project in Compone. The community had two water-related issues. First, annual spring output had declined in recent years, causing daily water shortages in the dry season. Being a community of subsistence farmers, Compone is heavily dependent on its water supply for irrigation purposes. A collection of inefficiencies in their irrigation network was seen as the main contributor to their water losses. Secondly, the water was not treated, thus spreading gastro-intestinal illnesses from waterborne viruses, bacteria and cysts. It is believed that the contamination stemmed from animal waste, which is commonplace in an agricultural community such as Compone. Five gravity-fed systems had been built to supply water from springs to the inhabitants of Compone. Each of the five independent systems provided water, but did not prevent contamination from the runoff of the fields above the springs. In the time since the discovery of the issues, the two issues of water quantity and quality were approached systematically through a series of assessment and implementation trips:

Following several assessment and implementation trips, EWB-UMCP was able to resolve the water quantity and a water quality issues for certain neighborhoods of Compone. The projects happened to be a success beyond implementation as they are still in operation and effective. In addition, an assessment team in August 2014 found that the local government of Anta, Peru had replicated the water quality system. Several systems had been built up and around Compone as well as some neighboring towns. This led to the whole community now being able to receive the same high quality of clean water as the Ayllu San Isidro sector where EWB-UMCP had focused its efforts.

Following this achievement, EWB-UMCP assessed several project types for the next phase of the program. A sanitation project which would improve the disposal of waste in the town and prevent contamination of streams was investigated. Another water quality project that would decrease the loss of clean water from the pipes carrying water from the springs to household taps was made an option as well as the tapping and adding of a new spring. Road safety was explored in the form of speed reduction features. Finally, a bridge was suggested to improve the commute for farmers and their livestock from their houses and stables to the field. A January 2015 assessment team went to Compone to finalize their decision on the next phase. After eliminating all but one of the project ideas due to lack of expertise from EWB-UMCP, lack of need and interest from Compone, and ability on Compone’s part to ease these situations through simple fixes, Compone’s leadership and EWB-UMCP suggested the next phase of the program be focused on increasing road safety through the building of a bridge. This concern stemmed from multiple accidents involving pedestrians and livestock with vehicular traffic being reported in a short period of time. As pedestrians and their livestock often use small, two foot wide shoulders to traverse the town, near misses and swipes from vehicles are common in conjunction with the accidents. Residents have no other choice but to use the side of the roads at certain choke points, where only the road crosses a stream or there are no other walking paths nearby. Community leaders are hoping to eliminate some of these choke points with bridges and the assistance of EWB-UMCP.

The Need

In the six months up to EWB-UMCP’s assessment trip in January 2015, Compone’s health clinic recorded eight accidents involving vehicles and pedestrian and within the town’s jurisdiction. These occurrences ranged in severity from heavy bruising to the death of the pedestrian. It was also noted that accidents had a wide range for the age of the pedestrians involved with those injured being anywhere from 9 to 65 years old. This illustrates that the road conditions are significant factors to the high rate of accidents and not just a lack of road safety etiquette from children. The clinic did not have records of accidents before the six month period. However, visible signs of incidents are evident with the appearance of crosses, marking the site where a deadly accident occurred, lining the highway. The report provided by the clinic also did not include accidents involving livestock. Any livestock injured, maimed, or killed can have a significant effect on a farmer and his family. Cattle especially are valuable assets for families as many in the village are invested in dairy farming.

The majority of these reported incidents occurred along the 3S Highway that goes through the middle of Compone. It lies in front of many of the main buildings of Compone including the convenient store, town hall, and school. The traffic through the town often exceeds the speed limit of 35 kph. Heavy traffic such as large semi-trucks and buses also pass through town as the highway serves as a main artery for the transportation of goods and tourists across Peru. Cars and trucks alike will pass each other on the two lane road when the opportunity presents itself. Dim lighting, especially at the dawn and dusk hours, has also led to accidents from the poor visibility given to drivers. The road has no sidewalk. Rather, a narrow outlay of gravel is used as a walkway by the villagers to walk alongside the highway. Farmers will use the shoulder to walk their cattle to pasture while school children will use it on their way to school or visit a friend’s house.

EWB Response

Community leaders and respected community members alike expressed a concern at their community’s safety and the current situation of the 3S highway. EWB-UMCP approached the problem initially with the suggestion of speed reducing features such as speed bumps. This was eliminated as a possibility once it was realized that Peru’s federal highway administration controlled the road. They proved to be difficult to reach and talk to while a temporary road closure and improvement would be extremely difficult to coordinate with the administration, let alone have it approved. The placement of lighting to increase visibility in the early hours of the morning and late hours of the evening was suggested. However, it became apparent that accidents were also occurring during the day and the community could install the technology themselves if need be.


Finally, one trusted community member suggested a bridge be constructed over a stream that forced people to use a highway crossing. The stream and its current highway crossing are near the center of town, thus having them see a good number of foot traffic every day. Villagers often use the highway crossing to cross the stream to avoid going down its steep banks and through the foot high stream. However, once every four or five years during the rainy season, the stream will over flood its banks and leave foot traffic with no option but to use the highway crossing. The assessment team and community leaders realized this to be a choke point that led people to walk on the road. EWB-UMCP proceeded to collect data on the stream dimensions while plans were also discussed to make the bridge the centerpiece of a new slow speed residential road. This slow speed residential road would shift people, their livestock, and slower speed traffic driving within the town off the highway and on to a separate roadway. The data collection found the 5 meter wide and 1.2 meter deep stream valley to be crossable. The banks also had the correct soil properties to bear the load of such a bridge. Carpenters, masons, and other skilled laborers were approached and pledged to help with the future construction of a bridge. In addition, local structural construction experts gave estimates for costs and available labor. Upon departure, the team had reached an agreement with the community’s leadership to continue EWB-UMCP’s partnership with Compone in constructing the bridge.

Moving Forward

After the January assessment trip, the team proceeded to complete a post assessment report and finalized a Project-Partnership Agreement. The team has entered the design phase through conducting an alternatives analysis. A box culvert, arch bridge, and fill and culvert were proposed as viable options. A traffic analysis report is also being used by the community to report on the current traffic patterns within Compone and how a bridge and its construction will affect them. Monthly communication between EWB-UMCP and several leaders and experts within Compone have granted the team information on the operation and performance of the past systems. As the project progress, the team plans to complete a design report that will include bridge designs and necessary calculations for the bridge and the bridge formwork’s construction. A final implementation report will then be developed to detail the construction process through a step by step process. The team hopes to implement the project in the summer of 2016.