Mozambique: Improved water access – boreholes drilled thanks to you

By Steven Dunham, Senior Portfolio Advisor – Mozambique

This is the first time I’ve visited Chongoene - one of five Australian-funded sponsorship programs in Mozambique. It was good to finally meet many of the World Vision staff I had been communicating with for a couple of years and see the work that is being achieved because of supporters like you.

Most World Vision sponsorship projects operate for 15 years, but sometimes less – to give enough time for change to occur, and for community members to be trained and prepared for us to leave to they can lead the rest of the change process. Chongoene, where there are multiple sponsorships projects, is scheduled to end in 2019. The communities I visited are experiencing the benefits of our work and are now planning to sustain these changes without our help – this is very encouraging.

I drove out with Eduardo, a colleague from the World Vision Mozambique office. It’s dry; there are a lot of cashew trees, a lot of cassava and maize. We drove down a windy dirt road over a couple of fields and we arrived at the borehole site.

This borehole was installed late last year and serves 505 people in that community. Before, there was nothing.

I enjoy speaking to people directly involved in projects – people who know the most about what’s changing. So we sat under a tree with local water management committee members (trained with World Vision and local government staff support) and I explained why I was there and how I wanted to know how things were going, and in particular, what that borehole meant for them and their community.

So with Eduardo, we collected what’s called a most significant change story from the women we met. Here it is in their own words:

“We used to put our dirty clothes in a basin and take it to where we used to wash clothes and collect water. We took a bucket with us to bring water back home, so it was a double burden. It was painful. Our joints felt like they were disconnected. Before, it was hard to come to a [World Vision] meeting like this – not clean. It would have taken too long to get ready. [We] would have felt afraid to come to a meeting like this so dirty.

“Then we shared our concerns with World Vision and the government. First, someone came from the government to inspect our area to confirm the lack of water. Once confirmed, they identified a place to drill and it was drilled.

“We now have water to wash ourselves. And we can send our kids to school clean. It’s much better now. Even though we have side effects from the past, the pain has reduced. We say, ‘thank you.’” What really struck me were the changes relating to pride, and that’s no insignificant thing – to feel better about yourself; to feel better about your kids; having sent your kids off to school having had a bath; going to a meeting, knowing that if you have a meeting, you have enough water to have a quick bath before you go. It’s very common in water, sanitation and hygiene programs for people to talk about increased pride, convenience, cost savings; a range of things.

The things I usually always ask when visiting water projects are, “what if World Vision leaves tomorrow? What are you going to do? What plans do you have in place to ensure that you’re able to make repairs?” They said that the water management committee, formed and trained with help from World Vision, have started collecting tariffs from households. There are 505 people in the community, so every household is required on a monthly basis to contribute 60 cents. Those funds are intended to be used to purchase spare parts for the borehole. Fortunately for them, they’ve already purchased those and they’re on standby.

In addition, a number of people in the committee, both women and men, have been trained to undertake very minor repairs. It’s great to know people are so involved and are already contributing to ensure they’re prepared for any maintenance even after World Vision leave. This means it’s important to them and a good sign of longer term sustainability.



It’s safer for kids to collect water now

Sometimes kids collect water, so there are direct benefits of this borehole for children. Many times, both girls and boys are asked to collect water for school or home. But if it’s a long way away, it can be dangerous; you don’t want your kid walking a long way through the bush carrying a 20 litre bucket of water home. But now, this borehole is in eyesight of the village. I asked if I could taste the borehole water and it was great - lovely water that was actually clean. Before the borehole was developed, children and families had to wash in rivers, usually sharing the water with cattle.

There are other benefits for the household, too. The less time women have to spend collecting water (as it’s usually women), the more time they have to allocate to other productive activities. In the past women may have spent 2 hours per day collecting water, but now they’re only spending 10 minutes, meaning they have time for other things, like making and selling things for profit. Or simply resting. What I saw and experienced re-affirmed the importance of shared benefits: children are sponsored, but they and their communities benefit.