The Virginia Peninsula Rotary Club, in partnership with Club Rotario de Heredia in Costa Rica, has obtained a $43,000 grant from The Rotary Foundation for making improvements to an irrigation system in the vicinity of Santa Barbara, in the central plateau of Costa Rica. This is a humanitarian Global Grant for economic development. A cooperative organization of 78 small farms will use the funds to greatly improve the efficiency of their shared irrigation system, making possible increased crop yields, increased acreage of farmed land, and a total benefit to the local economy of as much as the equivalent of half a million US dollars per year.
Investigative work on the project started in May of 2015, when the Rotary Club of Heredia, Costa Rica took a group of us to meet with representatives of the Sociedad Usuarios de Agua, a group of small farms. The farms were users of a shared irrigation system, necessary during the dry half of the year in this tropical country. Not knowing quite what to expect from a bunch of farmers in this impoverished area, we were pleasantly surprised by a very thorough and professional presentation. We also recognized some characteristics practically built into the project that were often difficult to find in a Rotary project--such as reliable sustainability and easily measurable results.
We took a look at some of their facilities, most of which were old, outmoded, and in poor condition. A follow-up meeting in February of 2016 ironed out many of the questions we Rotarians had, and we and the Heredia Club decided to pursue this as a Global Grant.
The project will replace many kilometers of leaking pipes, replace an old concrete sedimentation tank, change the irrigation method for most of the farms to a more efficient drip irrigation system, and provide sand filters that will make the water clean enough to work in the drip system.
The Global Grant application was accepted and approved by The Rotary Foundation in December of 2017. With the help of six other Rotary Clubs in District 7600, the project became fully funded in late March of 2018, and is now underway.