26th March 2014
We are already one week in to Phase Two and last Saturday we joined with the community of Khusumay and our project partner DMDD to celebrate World Water Day. Looking back on the work we have all done to improve water and sanitation health in the village so far, we decided to reflect on the question of ‘Why water is so valuable for development in this community’.
To answer this, many of us thought back to our geography lessons at school, where we were taught about the importance of water for development. Particularly for the economy using manufacturing, but also in agriculture, both irrigating crops and giving it to farm animals to drink.
Being here however really puts this knowledge in to context. As said by one of the village leaders when we were planning World Water Day, “water is life”. This statement was simple but very poignant. There is a direct link between access to water and quality of life that we take for granted at home. Water is crucial to ensure food security as much as the farming here as they are both means of survival for the community.
In our household surveys, many households said the biggest challenge affecting their livelihoods was drought.
An adequate and reliable water source means people spend less time, income and effort searching for water. The time spent collecting water can instead be used to prepare the water to be safe to drink, meaning they are less likely to be forced to stop work due to illnesses such as diahorrea and typhoid that can result from drinking dirty water. It also means people have more time to partake in activities such as farming or other more beneficial jobs. This is why the pipeline we are digging, and helped lay the first few kilometres of on Friday, is so crucial to the development of Khusumay. Currently the people walk several kilometres to fetch water, the task often falling to the women and young girls. In larger families where more water is required, this can often take up large amounts of the day, meaning some girls are unable to attend school at all. And, as such, miss out on their education that they require to participate equally as adults. Infact, when we were discussing the new water source on World Water Day, two members of the village, Thomas and Jeremiah, stated that improved access to water would be key to gender equality in the village. Their point was that in the new location the women and men would share equal responsibility for fetching water, meaning women would be free to partake in other activities such as setting up their own businesses. Children would have more time enabling them to attend school, creating positive development within the community.
With this renewed understanding of the importance of access to water in the village, we are all even more eager to get to work on construction and make the most of our last 3 weeks here in Khusumay.