Palmasola in Santa Cruz is Bolivia's largest prison, with approximately 5,000 inmates. It is like a small city, where people with diverse social, cultural and religious background live together. There are many needs, including missing sanitation services; this a big problem as the sewage discharged without any treatment is causing pollution not only inside the prison, but also to neighbourhoods around the prison.
I am 31 years old and one of the many prisoners who has been in Palmasola for more than two years. I am architect by profession, married and have a small child – their constant visits keep me alive. I entered the prison because I was partner of a company whose majority shareholder bankrupted; this person fled and I – for being partner of the company – am now detained, struggling to prove my innocence.
My fellow inmates and the prison officials call me “the architect", so I got in charge of the infrastructure area. I accepted the duty to have an activity and feel useful. Through Swisscontact’s Ecovecindarios Project, I received training on water and sanitation and the necessary working tools. I was nominated Chairman of the Water Committee by the inmates and am getting to know in detail technical aspects for sewerage systems, operation of the drinking water system for the work that the project has managed.
The project has given me tips on water saving and sanitation knowledge to apply as an infrastructure manager. Without the intervention of the project, it would have taken many more years for the prisoners to have relief from the daily suffering from lack of water, bad odours and health problems.
Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation
Tel. +41 44 454 17 17
Fax +41 44 454 17 97
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