The rural Kalabo District in Zambia is a difficult area to work in as the terrain is mainly deep Kalahari sand resulting in most villages not having basic water supply infrastructure, according to Elisha Ng’onomo, executive director of one of our newest partners, Village Water Zambia (VWZ).
Thankfully, for more than 1,286 residents (including 699 children) of the villages of Kasheshe, Musasa and Mungongo, VWZ specializes in working and drilling the region and has the technology and ability to drill wells under such demanding conditions.
Elisha explained that VWZ’s rural water supply program has been designed to meet the basic WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) needs of those living in impoverished communities using low-cost technologies and methods utilizing an integrated approach that focuses on the whole WASH package.
That means, in addition to providing clean water to thousands, VWZ’s goals are to also increase knowledge about proper hygiene practices, changing their attitudes and improving household practices in general with the overarching result being the prevention of waterborne illnesses, and even death.
In the Kalabo District, the boreholes in the three villages will be located within 500 yards of the hundreds of people residing in each, relieving them of the burden of walking much farther distances to potentially contaminated water collection sites.
The wells are projected to a minimum of 40 liters (10.5 gallons) of water per person per day in the country where some 5 million residents to not have access to an improved drinking water source, according to Elisha, who adds that 90 percent of rural Zambians “still remain without access to improved sanitation facilities.
“Lack of access to these basic amenities is among the key factors contributing to widespread poverty among the rural populations.”
The three villages were selected based on the facts that they had no source of clean and safe drinking water, with populations of more than 400 each there was sufficient need identified and “the community showed a willingness to contribute to the construction of the water point by agreeing to work, helping when necessary, such as bringing sand and fetching water during drilling.”
In addition, community leaders agreed to put up a small percentage of the cost towards the capital expenses for the manual drilled borehole.
An important tangible side benefit is that with convenient access to safe water, the residents of the villages will be able to plant – and water – their own small gardens, what Elisha calls “keyhole” gardens.
“This will help families improve their nutrition, and the sale of surplus produce will help them generate income.”
While the project will benefit all the residents of the villages, Elisha says the biggest beneficiaries will be “especially the women and children, as they are those most involved in fetching water.”
The results are clearly evident, as he reported following a previous water project completed in 2022 through the partnership between Bread and Water for Africa® and VWZ in the village of Salambango.
“The aspect of having an improved and safe drinking water access point has created the difference in Salambango Village,” he reported following the completion of the project there.
“The households are now able to access drinking water confidently knowing that the water they are consuming is secure and safe for their health.
“They are not worried about diarrheal diseases, walking long distances to fetch safe water and the need for collection of more firewood to boil their drinking water.
“Water is now at their doorstep.”