|Health Center of Jesús de Otoro|
Jesús de Otoro was a uniquely interesting city as it had three different water treatment systems: JAPOE, Santa Cruz, and Rurales. JAPOE has a FIME treatment system, and in the near future, Santa Cruz will have an AguaClara plant, and Rurales will have a FIME plant. The water systems weren’t entirely divided up by area – sometimes people could choose which one they had, and some had service from more than one water system. Overall, further development of quality water systems and community awareness is still needed, but the efforts being made were very impressive and promising.
The president of JAPOE said that the health center reported that cases of diarrhea had gone down by 4% this year. Generally, people had been drinking primarily bottled water but had begun to drink from the tap more. The health center also reported that 60% of the population is connected to the water system. They found that the widespread system improves community involvement and awareness of health issues, but some people were more willing to pay for cable than higher quality water. The general understanding of water contamination and water-related health appears to be very limited. In an effort to mitigate this, as part of a national initiative, the health office started a new program at the beginning of last year to improve education and prevention. They chose to concentrate on pregnant women, women who have just given birth, and children under 5 years of age. They have set an impressive example for two other nearby municipalities.
We were able to perform a few interviews in the area. At a small store, a 6-year resident of Jesús de Otoro reported having both JAPOE and Santa Cruz service, but preferred the treated JAPOE water to the untreated Santa Cruz water. The consumer found the price for JAPOE service fair but that for Santa Cruz unfair. The consumer reported that they knew of people without JAPOE who use Santa Cruz for all their needs, some boil the water but some do not. There are a notable number of cases of diarrhea and vomiting, possibly in part due to the contamination of the system by wastewater. At another house, we were told there were no health problems associated with the water, but that there is too much chlorine in the water, which residents could taste.