Last summer, Richard Bataringaya, executive director of our partner in Tanzania, Action for Ngono Basin Reforestation (ACTNGONO) reached out to Bread and Water for Africa® with a request to help the residents of eight villages in the country’s Muleba District living without ready access to clean, safe water.
“Thousands of residents in the district rely on unprotected streams for drinking and household uses which is contributing to severe health problems,” he told us.
“A serious problem exists in the eight villages where residents lack access to clean safe drinking water and live in an unclean environment resulting in the death of children from common illnesses and infections that are attributable to drinking contaminated water and eating unhygienic food.”
What was particularly frustrating to Richard and the residents of these villages is that about 20 years ago a European nonprofit group constructed dozens of wells in the area, but over the years, without regular maintenance or repairs, many of them stopped working.
“In most cases, the repairs require a complete overhaul of the hand pump system,” said Richard, who noted that the cost of repairs was about $1,500 each.
Richard explained that not only would the refurbished wells protect the health of the residents of the villages, but it would also eliminate much time wasted fetching water, primarily by girls and women.
“People have to walk long distances in search of water – as much as 15 miles daily – often from contaminated open pools,” says Richard, adding that “Opportunities are missed as mothers and children spend the whole day searching for water, children missing schooling opportunities and women and men missing out on socio-economic activities including venturing into farming or business opportunities.”
And today, we are pleased to report that thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, that all eight wells have been repaired and are fully functional.
“The wells were successfully repaired by installing a whole new hand pump system including pipes, rods and cylinder pumps,” Richard told us last month. “The new pumps are helping communities to have access to safe drinking water, reduced the time spent to go in search of water and a significant reduction in reported cases of water-related illnesses.”
In total, according to a population survey of the villages more than 11,000 children, mothers and fathers and elders are now no longer risking illness, or even death, when they take a drink of water.
Among them is Belina of Bugasha Village who told us that for her to get water for herself and her family that she had been getting up at 3 a.m. every day.
“I walked about 30 minutes to reach the nearest possible water source, and oftentimes I found a long queue there,” she said. “So, imagine as a mother, waking up at such a time while taking care of a young baby.”
Previously, without water, Belina said “We could not rear cows or practice poultry, or even do any other economic project that would require us to use a lot of water.
“But now, with the rehabilitated water well near us, such projects will be possible.”
Valintina, chairperson of Kigane Village, said that until recently the 350 residents in her small village had suffered for their entire lives from a lack of access to clean water.
“Community members drank unsafe water from the river and stagnant water sources,” she told us.
“One of these sources was a remote stream full of worms and leeches. Before drinking from it, they would use their clothing as a filter to separate the worms from the water. While they tried to remove the visible worms, the water was still contaminated with pathogens.
“The new rehabilitated well, made possible with the financial support of Bread and Water for Africa®, has completely changed the community. Members are happy having clean water – free from waterborne diseases – nearby their homes.”
And to ensure the refurbished wells do not fall into disrepair once again, ACTNGONO worked with local authorities to offer training and awareness for community members along with the creation of local WUCs (Water User Committees) to provide oversight.
Ijumbi Ward Councilor Wilbard Kakuru Muburiji personally wanted the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® to know how grateful he and all the residents of his ward are for the compassion and generosity you have shown to his constituencies.
“Your wonderful donations have enabled to transform our villages with safe water,” he wrote. “We promise to maintain the wells so as to enjoy clean water and reduce time wastage in search of water.”