The Kichwa/Peace Corps Sustainable House Project, to be built in the rural mountain parish of Guangaje, Ecuador will serve as an environmentally sustainable model home for the local Kichwa Indian residents of the region. Through a partnership of Peace Corps Volunteers and indigenous leaders, we hope to both instruct local builders on the practical benefits of green construction, and help kick-start the wider community tourism that could lead to economically sustainable development in the area.
Kichwa Indians are among the poorest and least educated groups within Ecuador's multi-national society, and those residing in the central highlands often live in shocking poverty. The scattered towns of Guangaje parish-- hidden in the mountains and clouds, at an elevation of over 10,000 feet -- receive even less in the way of government or charity aid. Ignorance and indifference has led to environmental degradation of the unique and beautiful paramo ecosystem.
To build a small tourist cabana that will:
1) Showcase various low-tech green building features (rain catchment, bottle wall, solar shower, etc.) features that people in the area can adopt in their own homes,
2) Re-teach traditional Kichwa adobe and straw building techniques, which are in danger of being lost as younger generations increasingly prefer to build with low quality, poorly insulated concrete block
3) Provide a sustainable income source for the town.
Our model home will be used to provide tourist lodging, encouraging the growth of the nascent local community tourism efforts in this spectacular but little-visited area of Ecuadorian highlands. It will also increase knowledge in easy, cheap and environmentally friendly building techniques -- improving quality of life through safer and more comfortable homes, and paying long term environmental dividends to the local ecosystem.