I have recently been taken on a trip to Dowa & Kasunga Districts with the CU Water Sanitation & Hygene (WASH) team. One stop was at a village where CU have just finished rehabilitating a bore hole that had been out of action for 8yrs. On our arrival we were met by what soon became quite a crowd. I was expected to say or do something.
I asked them to illustrate how far they had to walk to this borehole (Short way, Medium and Long Way). On enquiry a short way was about 3-5 mins, medium about 10mins and a long way 20 -30mins. I then asked them if thinking back to eight years ago whether they had noticed any difference in their health without the borehole. I was somewhat surprised when there was quite a proportion who indicated not a lot of difference. On further explanation though, it was because that group had been going to the next village to get water, whilst the group that had experienced an increase in diarrhoea & cholera were far from there and had been drawing water from a closer unprotected water source.
I then asked them if they thought the rehabilitated bore hole would make much difference to their lives in terms of time or health. Again, there was a spread. We then numbered them off, and asked the small groups to consider what impact the bore hole would have and what they might do with the improved time and health.
The answers across the groups were generally similar, comprising:
- Cleaner clothes & latrines
- Improved marital relationships (this was with much laughter, but also agreement)
- Able to make more things to sell (mud bricks, donuts etc)
- More time for cultural events
- HIV +ve people better able to survive
We then asked the groups to determine what they might be able to do to ensure that the borehole continues working. Answers were:
- Make a door to keep kids and goats out.
- Lock the pump with specified opening times
- Work with the village leadership to have a bye law to keep kids out
- Make sure the bore hole management committee has funds for spare parts
The Management Committee comprises of 5M and 5F representatives from the seven villages that would use the bore hole and that they had decided that there should be a common maize field that all should work on, with the proceeds being sold to fund maintenance costs. Given the variety of answers from the small groups, I’m left wondering how much support this decision actually has.