Posted by: meaghaninwaslala | October 22, 2009

The Challenges of Sustainability

During the months of August and September, we concentrated heavily on discussing the importance of savings and planning for the future through community funds. As we see it, it is very important that communities collect a monthly fund from all beneficiary houses (houses that have a direct connection and tap stand at their house) and from all parents of schoolchildren (who are benefiting daily from the tap stand at the school) to ensure the sustainability of the system. The idea is that when something in the system needs to be repaired the community will have resources to repair their system rather than letting it deteriorate.

There are many stories from development mistakes around the world: food that is donated to a country that later causes a plunge in prices of basic goods; farmers left unable to sell their crops; water systems that are constructed and not maintained and after three years are left to the earth to decompose. We are working here closely with the communities in order to try to ensure that our projects have a long lifespan and are sustainable. We feel that every day that a family or a schoolchild has easy access to clean drinking water is our success as well as success of the community.

This photo is of the community Zinica I taken in September 2009. The community members, household beneficiaries and the Water Board meet to discuss the community fund with the Water Ministry Staff

This photo is of the community Zinica I taken in September 2009. The community members, household beneficiaries and the Water Board meet to discuss the community fund with the Water Ministry Staff

Savings is not part of life here.  Many times people have little or no money to put aside for the future because many families in the communities are subsistence farmers (meaning they farm to eat to survive and often don’t see the exchange of money).  If there is some money in the home it is quickly spent on necessities for school, medicines, clothing, etc. However our project is only sustainable if maintained with money from the community – whether it be to buy a new spicket or to repair a broken tube.

We have visited the communities with water systems to discuss with the community the importance of savings.  Many in the community agree to the importance, but we have also realized the difficulty in this fund as we are working in very poor communities who are especially hard hit with the worldwide economic downturn.  In addition, there are always some concerns that come up with the stability of banks as well as the always present politics within each community that leads to some families that don’t agree to the fund.  Despite all our barriers and difficulties, we are working hard, with Virginia´s expertise, to create community funds.

A child enjoying clean water from a tapstand built in 2009.

A child enjoying clean water from a tapstand built in 2009.

For all WfW projects, a community fund is a requirement before the water system is constructed.  We believe that it is very important that communities get into the habit of saving as well as show the capability to organize and a dedication to their water project.  This may mean that the community organizes to sell some chickens to come up with the fund one month, or that each family turn in five pounds of beans another week.  We are working to help the community to understand how much their water system costs and how much it will take to maintain.

There is much gratitude in the communities for their water systems.  Listening to stories of the first time a glass of clean, fresh water was consumed from their new tap stand brings such joy to our faces.  These systems are reducing work and improving health and bettering lives… and we are working hard to help communities organize to ensure that this impact is carried far into the future.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Wonderful post Meg! It really sounds like your work in the community is creating the foundation you need for the water projects sustainability. I’m so excited for you!
    I’d love to talk to you more about the program I’m about to begin…India in February, but we’ll be doing quite a few heath and water related projects.

    Much love, talk soon?
    Erin

  2. […] her blog post  The Challenges of Sustainability, Meaghan Gruber, our former project manager, described some of our efforts that focus on water […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: