Creating Water Solutions Together as a Community

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about finishing the baseline for Nyamaharaga. However, we’re not interested in just collecting data. We want to begin conversations with the community so that we can create solutions tukapamoja (“together” in Swahili).

So, we’ve been presenting our results to the community, showing them just how contaminated many of their water sources are.  We start off with a video (starring yours truly) showing how we collect and test the water samples.

Afterwards, we show them pictures of some sample test results, giving them a crash course on how we determine the “dirtiness” of water sources.

Finally, we pass out a map that has all the water sources in the area plotted out, and we tell them how “dirty” each source is.

This way, they can see how dirty the sources that they’ve been using are. The goal is to hopefully drive home the fact that they are gambling every time they drink from these sources without first treating their water.

This also provides a great forum for receiving their feedback, hearing things form their point of view. Many thanked us for presenting these results. They had believed the water sources to be safe since their parents and grandparents had always used them.

Of course, many of them also asked the next obvious question “so…are yall going to drill a well for us?” Hearing this question makes me both excited and scared at the same time. There have been many attempts at sustainable handpump projects in the world, and many of them have failed. Some fail because there is no willingness to pay, while others fail because people didn’t recognize the benefits of the pump and resorted to their traditional water sources. The trick now is to see if the people of Nyamaharaga are really ready to drill a well. Are they ready to take on the responsibility of maintaining the well?

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