Well, I actually started writing this blog two weeks ago, being a little depressive and about to state that things have not got any better out here…but since then things have got a lot better…
A few weeks ago, we went on another site visit to Kurume, to measure the flows at each of the tap stands, and various points along the distribution pipe. Despite a few leaks along the pipe, and the fact that a few of the tap stands were not working (as the pipes had been damaged by the erosion of the road due to the incessant rains), the flow throughout the system was generally good, and sufficient. On a site visit a few weeks later, the villagers showed us that they have a lot more working tap stands than we had previously been led to believe. They are all classed as private connections, but there are at least nine of them!
On this site visit, we also got to visit the other villages which we would planning to provide water to: Ndoi, Ngolo Bolo, and Konye town itself. These visits proved more than interesting:
Ndoi has one India Mark II pump, used only for washing and not for drinking, as the water quality is poor. It also has one tapstand, with water constantly coming out due to there being no pressure in the pipes. This does supply a small amount of water during the dry season, but the villagers also have to rely on water from a small stream, and a stream 1.5km across a large river.
This village has three tapstands, although two of them are confined to drips, the other one still flows very vey slowly. There were large queues of children waiting at all of them to collect water in their buckets. The flow was so slow that it took nearly 3 minutes to fill a 17 litre bucket.
During the rainy season, there is an adequate water supply from a small waterfall – but this dries up for 5 months of the year, meaning the villagers have to wait in even longer queues or cross the river to get water. There is a well system, but this water is contaminated. Ngolo Bolo has the densest population, so when illness strikes, it does so badly here.
The headquarters of the subdivision (and hence the highest population), Konye has the largest number of houses, schools (6) and the divisional hospital. There was a large cholera epidemic here in 1990-91 due to drought, and diarrhoea and dysentery are generally prevelant There was one tapstand here, with a large selection of water containers waiting to be filled due to the lack of sufficient flow coming from it.
One large finding that came from this site visit was that a system had already been designed in 1994 by an NGO called OSRI (Organisation for Sustainable Rural Infrastructure) based in Kumba (our hometown). The system had been designed for five villages – Kukaka, Ndoi, Ngolo Bolo, Konye and Dikome. The catchment had already been constructed, as had some of the piping (the tapstands already mentioned here are part of this system), and even a storage tank, but the funding had run out before the system could be finished. This was a substantial finding, as this project was effectively what we had been brought out to do…!
So, following a visit to OSRI’s offices, we have now relocated to working with them. They have a file with substantial information about the Konye project, which we have been working through - the aim will be to update this, with a view of getting phased funding opportunities to allow it to be constructed. They also have many other projects which we are interested in working on! So things are now getting better…
We have also started working on the side with a charity called the Rural Health Foundation, and will soon be going on a visit to a village called Matoh to investigate why a system installed there failed after a year.
So, things are starting to look up…!