I am so excited to post the first update! We made it here safely and spent the first week spending time with my brother and sister-in-law, Keith and Elyse Perry, who are serving as missionaries in Uganda. They were able to come down for a few days with their son Judah and it was so good to see them. And let's be real, there was quite a bit of strategy game playing. I have had a bit of a "worlds colliding" experience over the past ten days, first with my own kids here, then having Keith and Elyse here. It's a little surreal, but completely amazing. We sat almost in awe a time or two just taking in the fact that we were all here together on the other side of the world. Crazy.
But on to the water.
I wanted to tour the area and do an assessment of the current situation within the small villages surrounding our farm so we took a couple afternoons to do just that. Our field manager, Ornelio, came along to translate, which was such a gift because he was born and raised in Moz and even knows the local Macua dialect.
Here is what we found:
There are three main ways that water is found and consumed in the area. First, and probably the most common, is simply digging for it with their hands. I was a bit surprised by this one, but it makes sense. Through a long history in the area, the communities know where the springs are and they pull back the ground to find the water. The problem is that with so many people putting their hands in the water holes, rain washing in contaminants, and who knows what else falling in, they are dirty. Most of them get stagnant and look simply disgusting. I could not imagine drinking from them, but when you have no other options, what can you do?
1.) Hand digging
The second way they can get water is through current wells in the area. There were actually more wells than I expected to find, but when we investigated further, there were quite a few problems. First of all, most of the wells are unprotected and shallow and subsequently get contaminated just as easily as the hand dug holes. These shallow wells are also not as likely to produce water throughout the year, frequently drying during the dry season. We did find a couple deep, hand pump wells just like the ones we will be digging, but as suspected, when these wells are placed in a community with no one taking ownership, no support or training for maintenance, they fail. Case in point: this well below was built in September of 2015 and it was already BROKEN with no resources to fix it!! It was put in by the government when the village put together a small contribution to go towards it, but it was installed, left with no support or maintenance, it broke, and now it is sitting there chained up and useless. And I know for a fact that this is not the only case like it. There are also territorial feuds that can cause a perfectly good well to be unusable to people within the proximity simply because the wrong person has control of it. We hope this can be eliminated by strategic placement of the wells and putting them in the hands of a neutral party while involving the communities in their maintenance.
The third way we found that people will get water is through seasonal rivers and slews. This is the least likely source of drinking water, but at times the only option. It is highly contaminated because bathing, washing clothes, etc., occur in these waters and sewage/disease is likely to be quite prevalent. It is also problematic because it is not a steady source of water during the dry season, even if it was simply being used for irrigation.
3.) rivers and slews
A couple other interesting findings were that there are are at least a few people who are attempting to irrigate outside of the rainy season as well as at least one person we know of who is harvesting rain water and selling it. This is very encouraging because it makes introducing some of these ideas and concepts not seem quite as foreign as I had thought they might be. If there are people who want to do these things but simply do not have the resources or knowledge, then we can be the intermediaries for them and provide the opportunities for improvement.
And I can't wait for the next phase to come: DIGGING WELLS!!