9th December 2013
This week in Charlie 3 we have set ourselves a challenge to collect water from the local riverbed. Through our action research we discovered that most people living in Mgongo collect their water from a riverbed an hour’s walk away from our camp. Every day we see men on carts, women balancing buckets on their heads and children carrying jerry cans on their way to collect water. Most people in our town have to walk a very long distance to collect water up to three times per day. The water from the riverbed is unsafe to drink and contains a large amount of soil and dirt. In order to make it clean and safe to drink we needed to sieve and then boil it or filter it. Each of these processes took a very long time and it was a real challenge to prepare enough water for all our needs including drinking, washing and cooking. This task slowed down the progress of our work due to the need for people to stay in camp to boil water. Boiling large amounts of water also used up our supply of gas. We have now run out of gas so will have to cook on a rocket stove for the last week!
Walking to the river to collect water was very challenging, particularly in the heat of the day. Due to the distances involved we were unable to carry much in one go and the task drained the group of all their energy. The challenge has made us realise how much water we consume – roughly 160 litres per day – and therefore how much of a struggle it would be to collect enough water for an average family in Mgongo.
As a team we have all gained a much better understanding of the challenges facing the villagers in Mgongo and the factors which prevent them from boiling their water. In particular boiling water takes up precious time! and fuel which is expensive. This means that although the community may know the risks posed by drinking dirty water they still do not take the necessary steps to purify it. This means we need to work even harder to spread the message that boiling water will prevent disease and ultimately save lives within the town of Mgongo.