Thursday, August 25, 2011

Waiting for water

We drove for about 2 hours on dirt roads this morning - we'd left at 6:30am and the sun was rising over the red dirt. Little dik diks darted across the road. I spotted a couple of gazelles; it was kind of like being on safari, just with more donkeys and cows and less lions and elephants. So on we drove, the red dirt turned to black dirt, then to grey dirt, then to sand. We were heading to Dillo, a place where we've been trucking water.

Most of the journey was relatively green, but the last half hour or so I really noticed how dry the land was. We cruised through Dillo town and arrived at the local government water authority. This was the view.
Somehow, these bright pink flowers bloom in the middle of nowhere, when nothing else is green.

We picked up a local government official and drove off into the bush. We stopped at a small village to pick up one of the senior community members so he could take us to the well. It was in pretty bad shape.

You can see bits of wood in the background there - the whole well is supposed to be covered over with concrete, and is fed from a smaller opening off to the side. It's been in disrepair for some time, and this means that only one household can use the well at a time. There are 96 households in the village that use this well...sometimes the women have to wait for 8 hours.

With the water level so low, each household is allowed to fill one jerrycan (20 litres) every second day. With household sizes ranging from 6-10 people this really isn't much water. And it's not a quick process. The young girl above would drop the USAID tin into the well, clanging against the sides as it dropped, then pull it back up. She would then tip half into the smaller yellow container as her elderly grandmother couldn't hold it properly if it was full. The grandmother would then tip the half full yellow container through the funnel into a jerrycan. The men stood around and watched. I asked my colleague if they carried the water back to the village, and thankfully she said yes (which is so often not the case.) I asked whether the men ever filled up the jerrycans from the well as that seemed to make a lot of sense to me, but no, culturally the women fill the water containers and the men carry them.

The next well we visited was worse - well better in that it was properly covered, but worse because it was completely dry. The government worker seemed to be a bit shocked by this.
We went and spoke to some of the community who use that well. One woman told me that if it weren't for the water trucks that we operate they would be in "serious trouble." I thought that was a bit of an understatement really.
The thing with water trucking is that it's a last resort measure. It's expensive, it's not sustainable, but there really is no other option for these communities. It hasn't rained in 2 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment