The Palicur Amerindian community has been settled along the River Oyack for 40 years, in Favard village in the municipality of Roura, in French Guiana. The village is located at about 30 km from the capital Cayenne and life there follows the incoming and outgoing flows of canoes. It takes twenty minutes for residents to reach Roura and the road network, as the village is only connected to the town in the municipality by a long road which is too often impassible.
Up until recently, the water supply was just as chaotic. The population was for a long time supplied by a spring located at less than 2 km from the village. However, it was untreated and regularly posed health problems, especially in the rainy season, when the spring water was murky and infested with germs… In 2002, the death of a newborn child prompted village leaders to demand drinking water from the urban community (CACL).
Thanks to EUR 200 000 of financing allocated by AFD, CACL has provided funding to secure drinking water production on the Favard site and bring it up to standards. The small treatment unit has the size of a container and was commissioned in September 2016 to treat spring water prior to distributing it in village households.
The drinking water plant in Favard village is a unique facility in French Guiana, as all the machinery is in a container, installed below the water catchment system set up by residents when they arrived in 1973. The container was fully equipped in mainland France before being installed a few hundred meters away from the village. Inside, it is exactly the same system as in a conventional unit. This type of turnkey structure is often used in Africa or in emergency situations, such as in refugee camps. The model could be reproduced elsewhere in French Guiana.
The water is withdrawn from a small spring and transported to the plant to be treated. It goes through three large filters : sand and charcoal filters to eliminate suspended particles, then through a remineralization filter : in its natural state, French Guiana’s water is indeed very low in minerals. The water also goes through a chlorine tank, which kills bacteria, and through a flocculation tank, which ease settling. The pH and flow are constantly monitored. In front of the container, a 6 m3 storage tank is connected to 690 m of pipes which reach homes.
For nearly four years now, the Amerindian community of Favard, which has been officially renamed “ Wayam ” (“ turtle ” in the Palicur language) has been working on a cultural ecotourism project. The associations Walyku (from the village) and Peupl’en Harmonie have laid the foundations for a new tourism model for French Guiana, based on the examples of Costa Rica and Peru. The aim, show the Amerindian culture, traditions and know-how – Palicur in this case – by involving the entire community.
In 2015, 200 tourists from French Guiana, Europe and elsewhere (South America, China, etc.) were consequently able to spend a day sharing the habits and customs of Amerindians, learn how to weave, engrave calabashes or recipes for traditional dishes. There were over 800 of them in 2017 and bookings are growing and growing. The project is also arousing interest among other Amerindian villages in French Guiana.
This has a twofold interest for the community : it allows the profits from the activity to be redistributed to all participants and, especially, it revives their taste for their ancestral culture and for these traditions which were tending to be lost over the generations…
Here again, the supply made possible by the installation of the treatment plant “ really is a good thing ”, as Jean, the President of the association Walyku, explains. “ We can welcome people and offer them drinking water. This really helps the development of our activity! ”
A study is currently being conducted for another 15 m3 tank in Favard. The urban community and French Guiana Water Company have implemented subsurface analyses to be able to build the foundations of this future “ water tower ”. For the time being, no date has been set and the current reservoir is sufficient for the village’s daily consumption. But the project would allow a continuous two-day water supply, even in the event of a breakdown at the plant.
The next projects for the village : electricity and wastewater disposal. For now, a few people have either photovoltaic panels or a generator to run their refrigerators or read by lamplight. But residents would like to have a more stable and more economical production that would allow everyone to have electricity at home. Studies are ongoing for wastewater – and waste – disposal.
Finally, as the village wishes to achieve its food self-sufficiency, several projects, such as the creation of aquaculture ponds, sheep farming or small areas of farmland, have been mentioned.