Recently, our good friend Michele, from African Leadership, took a trip to Africa to visit several of the Mocha Club/African Leadership Clean Water projects. The focus of this visit was to check-in on the progress of the teams building and restoring wells in East Africa. We had a chance to sit down and chat with Michelle about her trip and wanted to share some of her take-aways.
Q. What countries and communities were visited on your most recent trip to Africa?
A. Malawi and Ethiopia — both of these are considered LDCs i.e. Least developed Coiuntries in Africa and where we have partnered with communities with the need for safe water. In Malawi we work with 2 communities caring for orphans – a peri urban group called ADZIWA and a rural community, Lizulu, about one hour out of the capital city.
Q. What are some of the attributes of the well in Lizulu that make it unique?
A. The community had already put in place a well and we were able to come alongside of them and install a solar pump. This ‘green technology’ really is the way to go for many communities in Africa where fuel is both very expensive (between $16 and $23 a gallon in Malawi off-market) and also very erratic in supply. Malawi has many days of sunshine and so although this technology is more expensive in the initial outlay in the long term it is more beneficial for the community.
Q. Were there any sights or stories from the Lizulu well visit that were especially memorable for you?
A. A little girl attending the local school came by after class to collect a cup of water and on her departure she filled her little green bucket which she secured on top of her head as she proceeded to walk home. The water outlet was not only a benefit to the children being fed through the Lizulu orphan care program but also to their families.
Q. How did you spend your time in Ethiopia?
A. I drove, together with our partners from the Kale Haywet Church, to a town about an hour out of the capital city, Addis Ababa, called Debre Ziet. En route we witnessed many young boys walking with their donkeys laden with big plastice drums. These children can walk anything up to 25km one way in search for water for the families needs. We proceeded to meet one of teh community leaders at the well site where he updated us on the well which had not been operatioanl for about 2 and a half years due to the fact that the pump had burned out.
Q. How many people would the repaired well in Kajima-Dibayu serve?
A. This well already has pipes laid out to 6 neighbouring villages with total population of about 10,000. It is also linked to the local school as well as water points for their livestock which sustains their livelihoods in this area.
Q. Can you describe what clean water means to this community?
A. The children would be able to attend school instead of walking these long distances in search for water. (These long distances are particularly unsafe for girls and so the water here would decrease their risk factor). The community livestock will also have water which is a source of livelihood for many households. Clean water always has a positive knock-on-effect against communable diseases. Part of this project will also include a health, hygiene and a sanitation education component to the community. Access to water will also have an impact on food production where many are subsistence farmers they will be able to water small household vegetable gardens. The children at the school currently spend the whole day in class or playing football outside (with daily temperatures similar to the heatwave currently being experienced in the USA) without water for drinking (and definitely no fans or aircons).
Q. What is our strategy for supporting specific wells through Africa?
A. We have many small communitites with whom we have partnered with over the years throughout the continent both through our pastor training and community developmet projects. Many of these communities face challenges when it comes to access to safe water and sanitation issues. As we work on integrated livelihoods and susatinability in these various communities we recognise that water is part of the commons and that peoples/communities ‘right to water’ and ‘right to life’ are of utmost importance as formulated in the UN Resolution 64/292.