What’s up in Yongolo

The daily updates we get from Water4 partners from 23 enterprises across 14 countries are challenging, inspiring and perspective changing to say the least. They’re the heroes of the Water4 story as they constantly fight to crush the crisis while empowering others in the communities they serve. This story, from Carmen Brubacher in Zambia, is a great reminder that real lasting change, while slow at times, is both possible and contagious.

“My impact story of the past week was in Yongolo, Zambia. Water Access Zambia started working in Yongolo a few years ago when we drilled a couple boreholes and did WaSH training. Since then, the community has been asking for a piped water system, as they are continuing to move up the development ladder for water access. We’ve recently been able to find a partner who will fund the additional cost for piped water, so I went to Yongolo last week to finalize some of the details on community contribution and to locate where the water taps will be installed.

I was watching the community as they drew water from the handpump that will soon be upgraded to a solar pump with multipoint distribution. Several kids who were filling up huge buckets proceeded with their clean water back down to the river.

This is unusual to carry water TO the river, so I followed them. The kids explained that they lived by the river, about 1 km from the clean water access point, but since they didn’t have access to clean water where they lived, their parents had sent them in a canoe to get enough clean water for drinking and cooking because it kept their family healthy.

This shows how the knowledge of the importance of clean water and hygiene had become a multi-community wide attitude and practice of taking the time to make it a priority. Incidentally, one of the new taps on the multipoint water system will be in installed in their community, making clean water access more convenient.

Another lady from Yongolo pumped a little water into her bucket and then proceeded to soap it up and rinse it out, making it nice and clean before she filled it up with water and took it home. This is an important practice when collecting water, and showed her understanding of how clean water can become contaminated.

Although we saw so many good practices that day, one of the community members who accompanied us to mark the new tap locations had to excuse himself twice to find a toilet, explaining he was having abdominal pain and diarrhea – a reminder that even though we are moving in the right direction, people are still at risk of contamination if even one person doesn’t follow good hygiene and sanitation practices. Very often its 2 steps forward, 1 step back – it’s a process – but it’s changing lives in our communities.”

By Carmen Brubacher, Water Access Zambia