Team Peru: kites, sanitation, stoves, and bricks!

D-Lab student working with community members to create a stove. Photo: MIT D-Lab
D-Lab student working with community members to create a stove. Photo: MIT D-Lab

Greetings from Peru! D-lab here has had a very busy and exciting trip so far. We arrived in Lima on January 5th and paid a brief visit to La Sagrada Familia, an orphanage in the slums outside of the city, where we made kites with some of the children and revisited the pedal-powered washing machine that last year's D-lab team had made for the orphanage.

Then from Lima, we flew to Iquitos and took a boat to work in three villages in the Amazon: Comandancia, Nuevo Israel, and Santo Tomas. With the help of a local NGO, Project Amazonas, we organized workshops to talk to the communities about water sanitation and latrines. People were very interested to see the growth of bacterial colonies in river water, but not in water that had been treated with chlorine. Good latrines are important for containing waste and preventing the contamination of drinking water, so we discussed different design options with the community and surveyed their needs.

Reliable electrification is also an issue in these villages, and by talking to various residents and visiting their generators, we came up with some ideas for future projects D-lab could do relating to energy in the Amazon. We also held workshops to introduce more efficient designs for cookstoves that can be easily made out of locally available materials, such as clay or sheet metal. After learning from the community how to retrieve and work with clay, we worked together to make stoves and bricks.

Two women seated opposite each other working with wet clay.
Photo: MIT D-Lab
Clay stove
The stove! Photo: MIT D-Lab

Working in the rainforest has been hard but rewarding. It is D-lab's first time working with Project Amazonas and these villages, and we hope there will be more projects in the Amazon in the future.

A large group of people outside at left watching a few others light a brick and clay stove at right.
Photo: MIT D-Lab

Next: the mountains! In a few days, we're due to arrive in Amparaes, a village outside of Cusco, where we will be spending the second half of our trip.