Water – a basic human necessity

Take this challenge – switch off your water at the main source in your home for 24 hours.   The closest point at which you could walk to fetch water must be a minimum of 1 kilometer away from your home, no hopping in your car and driving, you must walk.  Sounds simple enough, but I challenge you to do it, for 24 hours and it will give you a new perspective on how we take water for granted and how we cannot live without it.  For many people living in rural communities, this is not a 24 hour challenge, but an every day reality with people having to walk many kilometres each day to fetch water.

One of the community development projects being implemented by Environment Africa is Wells and Nutrition Gardens within rural schools.  Many rural schools do not have access to water and CEO of Environment Africa, Charlene Hewat together with Chris Molam, Past District Governor of Rotary from District 9210 spent two days visiting rural schools in Kadoma, one of the focus areas for this project.  They spent two days, traversed 700 km and visited 12 out of the 30 schools identified as recipients.  Rotary Club of Hunyani have partnered Rotary Clubs in Europe, Canada, America and the UK together with the Rotary Foundation to support this project.

Kadoma is traditionally a mining area and is typically very hot and dry with low levels of annual rainfall.  The day to day reality for the thousands of children who attend schools in these remote rural areas starts with an average 5 to 10 km walk to school every day.  Many of these schools have no fresh water supply within the school grounds, hence the importance of this project which also encompasses the concept of PPCP’s, Private Public Community Partnerships, a model that is upheld by Environment Africa where communities have ownership and responsibility for any project initiated.

At the start of the project in October 2010 each of the 30 schools identified was visited to establish if there was an underground water source. The project worked with the  School Development Committees (SDCs) comprising members of staff, parents and local community members who are responsible for co-ordinating and overseeing the project.  Each school is responsible for digging and preparing their well and establishing a nutrition garden nearby to grow vegetables which can be used for the school and the excess sold to the local community to raise funds to support themselves.  Many schools visited are also raising funds to support the orphans at the school and assist them with school fees.  The project necessitated communication and co-operation between the schools, local communities and private businesses.   Community members were responsible for digging the wells, the schools raised money to buy bricks and cement to line the wall of the well and Rotary will fund the pumps that will be installed at each well.  In most cases, the schools have also had to approach private business within their areas to help with blasting as this is a very rocky area and nearly every well that has been dug has had to have blasting to clear the rock.   Of the 12 schools visited, every school has dug and prepared their wells ready for the pump fitting.  Depths of digging before hitting water have ranged from 2 metres being the most shallow to the deepest being 38 metres with the overall average depth of wells being 14 m.  The well is then lined with bricks and once the pump is installed the school and surrounding communities will have access to clean, fresh water.  The nutrition gardens are prepared in an area next to the wells and these have also been prepared by community members, teachers and learners ready for planting.  Some of the schools have already taken the initiative to start cultivating vegetables and are fetching water from the nearest source.  One of the schools is now supporting orphans at the school from funds raised from selling the vegetables into the local community which was very exciting to see for ourselves.

Rotary Hunyani are pleased with the progress of the projects and Chris said that he could really see community ownership and empowerment taking place on the ground and that he believes that this could be a larger programme that Rotary could adopt as they move towards a more sustainable long term approach to community development.   Think globally, act locally, together we can make a difference.



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