As part of the water and sanitation project we carried out in 2008 with UNICEF NZ, there’s been 16 medium depth (20 metre) handwells dug on Pemba island Madagascar. Pemba is the poor cousin of Zanzibar. We’ve been here checking out the performance of the wells, talking to the villagers to see how their lives of changed, ensuring the maintenance budgets are sufficient (users pay a flat monthly rate) , discussing the economic opportunities the having water should be opening up, examining the water quality testing records to ensure sufficient monitoring of that. Pemba is a low lying island of 300,000 people and so water is limited and contamination from salinity an issue if the aquifers fall too low.
The project is going well, for example the incidence of diarrhoea has dropped away as the contaminated water sources have been closed off, and villagers are far more proximate to the sources of clean water. But my concern is to get economic leverage from the resource and that requires understanding just how extensive or limited the supply is, and then coming up with community arrangements so that it can be used to grow food or to sell to others.
The economic leverage that is available is one of the most important results that needs to be capitalised on. In this strictly Muslim part of Tanzania there are a few cultural impediments but none are insurmountable and villagers were genuinely excited as we went through how they could both conserve their resource, get an economic return and provide funds for both R&M and depreciation of the gear.
On to the west of Tanzania today to revisit the projects between Lake Victoria and Rwanda.