The celebrations have died down, the drilling rigs have packed up and gone home, and our window into the lives of Bokola and Kaniche is starting to close. But there is still much to do and a huge amount of change to come. Our partners Nathan and Michael, along with WaterAid’s Boyce, will continue to be familiar faces in the communities, and we’ll continue to tell the story on this blog.
This is the first in a series of posts to update you on what’s happening right now in the communities, and to share what we hope clean water and safe sanitation will mean in the longer term.
In the last two weeks the main priority has been getting operational hand-pumps into both communities, especially Bokola where the scoop hole completely collapsed and the community had to borrow or buy water from neighbouring villages. My colleague Erik Harvey heads up WaterAid’s technical team, and he’s written a few words below:
“The borehole has now been properly sealed around its lining to prevent contamination. The water quality will be tested, the drainage slab constructed, the pump installed, and the committee trained in its maintenance. They will also be helped to devise a tariff system and supported in the early stages to ensure they are able to undertake the day-to-day maintenance.
“There is also work we need to do with the local authority to ensure they have the skills and resources to be able to provide extra support should anything go seriously wrong in the future.
“These are all very important processes and steps aimed at ensuring that we do not just provide a pump, but a pump that provides water for a long time to come.”
Both Boyce and Eric stress the importance of the role the community must play as owners of the waterpoint. In both communities we had vital technical supervision from the Government and WaterAid, but it was the local waterpoint committees who where the client of the project, they had to be happy and make the final decisions.
Now that safe water is in both communities they can start to look towards a different future. It’s obvious to see from Michael’s photos the benefits people are already enjoying.
There are other, less obvious benefits too. Firstly, the women and children are simply safer. In both communities the scoops were a little way out of the village and were in secluded areas. This left women prone to attack and they had to go to collect water in groups just to feel safe. The other immediate benefit is economic; by having water in the heart of the community many hours each day are saved in walking to collect water from the river beds. This time will be invested in setting up small businesses, or allow more time to be spent cultivating crops.
One of the most striking yet least visible changes in both communities is a new found pride.
Pride comes from many sources. This project has brought the whole community together in a way nobody ever imagined it could. In a previous post Mary mentioned how the project had given her strength, and Mr Khombe has clearly reveled in the challenge.
Every household in both communities has constructed a latrine, bathing area, hand washing facility, and dish rack. They worked together to plan and build everything, making sure that even households run by children or with elderly people were included, nobody was excluded. In Bokola people are so proud of the work they have done that they have even made a sign to tell others.
With the support of WaterAid and our partner Work for Rural Health, and under the steely gaze of Mrs Mwanza, the communities have flourished – taking a lead role in planning and delivering their sanitation projects and overseeing the well-building work.
Safe water is the first step for both communities and in future posts we’ll explore the longer term changes both communities can look forward to.