Monday, May 7, 2007

Bringing Clean Water to People

Lack of clean and fresh water is a huge problem in many African communities today, resulting in poor health and bad living conditions for hundreds of thousands of people. Does it have to be so difficult? With the help of UNDP, things are changing for one community in Tanzania.

Lusala is home to about 4,000 people. Mostly farmers, they grow coffee, bananas, corn, and beans. Villagers also raise chickens, goats, and some cattle. For years, shortages sent women and children miles away each day to collect water. The lack of clean water made tending the farms difficult and caused a great deal of sickness.

Bringing fresh water to Lusala, though not cheap, was not prohibitively expensive. The project cost the equivalent of $40,000 - $10 per person. That figure would have likely quadrupled had private contractors implemented it. Instead, community members, with help from government water surveyors and engineers, built the reservoir, installed pipes and provided all the necessary labor! To ensure the water keeps running, a local association is responsible for collecting water fees from users. The money is used to repair equipment when needed.

Today, no one in Lusala needs to walk more than 400 yards to find clean water. Fresh water gushes from taps at 11 drawing-points right within the Tanzanian community.

According to Elizabeth Mtweve, a villager and mother of four:

"Life is much better now that I have clean water near my house. I don’t walk all day in the heat to find water. In three to five minutes you fill your bucket by turning a tap. The water project has saved every woman in Lusala a lot of hardship and time. My children, and even myself, used to fall sick because of dirty water. With clean water, we enjoy good health."