The Importance of Field Managers for Nuru International
So I’ve been on the ground here in Kenya for about 9 months now, and FT6 has arrived to start taking over for us. Since June, we’ve trained around 500 new farmers in the basics of WASH, tapped into a demand for handwashing stations, and started to train our staff on a participatory based WASH curriculum. It’s been great to see the progress we’re making, but what encourages me the most is seeing how much our staff has grown. I know, I’ve gushed over them before, but they are the reason I have hope that we’ll be successful in ending extreme poverty. Without their leadership and humility, Nuru would just be a one hit wonder. Nothing that we do would be sustainable, so really, everything that we do rides on them.
But why do I trust that our leaders will be able to end extreme poverty in their communities? I’m glad you asked.
During one of our baselines, I asked one of our Field Managers why they worked for Nuru. He thought about it for a while, and then answered with a story about an mzee (Swahili term for an older fellow) who worked hard all his life and was able to save up some money. However, he didn’t get a chance to marry anyone and thought “Gee, I’ve made all this money, but don’t have anyone to share it with” So, he decided to plant a mango tree so that when he died, people would be able to eat a mango from that tree, and remember him. This Field Manager was motivated to work for Nuru because he wanted to make a difference in his community. He wants to see change in his community. And though I’ve only told a story about one of our Field Managers, I’ve seen that same motivation in all of our leaders.
We’ve also learned a lot of hard lessons, most notably the fact that it’s very difficult for a rural community to maintain deep wells. Even for communities who are bought in and heavily use the deep well, the user fees are not enough to keep up with projected maintenance costs. Although deep wells provide clean water year-round for the communities, it just doesn’t seem to be a sustainable solution that the communities can maintain themselves. We’ve been transitioning with our FT6 counterparts for the past couple of weeks, and we’re lucky enough to have Nicole Scott come back on the ground with us. Nicole and I have been talking through a lot of these issues over the past couple of months, and have developed some new directions for the WatSan program given what we’ve learned so far. I’m excited that we’ll continue to build on the efforts that have been working, while learning from our past. It will be an exciting time for the WatSan program as we continue to grow.