During the early days of Christmas Shoebox Appeal distributions to countries in both Africa and Eastern Europe, it became obvious that there was more work required on a year round basis to make this hope more sustainable and tangible.
Through our network of partners in each country, we began to look at establishing development aid projects in these same communities. We were already working in the poorest regions of each country and reaching those that many of the larger NGO’s seemed to forget. Having successfully been involved with this project in Mozambique, Team Hope through its partner is working in Machakos, Kenya, bringing clear drinkable water to thousand of people every day. The prinicpal process is through our Bio Sand Filter system.
To date Team Hope has supplied BSF units to over 4,500 families in Ngangani, Machakos !
The BSF is only one part of a complete ‘Community water programme’.
What is commonly know as ‘Watsan’ is complete training and education on Water and Sanitation practices. When you’ve never had clean water before, people need to learn about hygiene practice with toilet habits, cooking and cleaning etc. This training is part of the deal when being given a BSF machine.
There’s also the issue of where to get water in the first place. When it rains in Kenya the rainfall can be very heavy. However, the intense heat that both precedes and follows the rain means that the water evaporates very quickly. Team Hope’s ‘Kenya community water projects’ also involves the building and digging of various dams for water storage.
River dams ( Sub-surface dams) provide sporadic water sources along three very large rivers that had traditionally been very dry river beds. With portable diesel pumps, water can be pumped locally for various crop farming including Chilli ( bullet ) peppers, peach tree saplings, Banana trees etc..
Larger ‘Earth Dams’ and ‘Pan dams’ through gravity fed piping, can provide a much greater supply of Water for Maize, Sugaer cane and more.
To simply pay for, supply and provide these systems would never work. It is the policy of Team Hope to always look at sustainability. This is best served through local involvement, ownership and management. So when a family is looking for a BSF they are expected to give what they can in terms of money, the smallest amount is still a positive move towards ownership. If they have no money, (which is often the case) they are expected to help with the labour of digging with local dams.
Even dams when finished require management towards maintaining pipes etc, security to prevent animal intrusion and contamination. To encourage this, all members of the local community are expected to agree in writing to take part in the initial construction and following supervision of any dams required. Engineering know how, equipment and even materials, can be supplied by Team Hope but communities must be involved at all stages. Hence the emphasis on the ‘Community water programme’.
The story so far…..
To date Team Hope has supplied over 4,500 BSF units to families in Ngangani, Machakos. There has also been almost one hundred dams (Earth & Pan) been completed, along with almost fifty River ( Sub-surface) dams. At all times it is only local people that are emploey in the construction od BSF units, dams or forestry projects.
In one region closer to the mountains there have been several Shallow ‘borehole’ wells constructed. This is because the soil is too soft and sandy to act as a dam.
Team Hope has most recently agreed to establish a second BSF construction site in the Machakos region of south eastern Kenya. This will serve to double the reach and potential health improvements for thousands more families.
Through it’s ‘Confirming Hope’ project, ( http://secure.teamhope.ie/confirminghope ) Team Hope is also looking at setting up Rainwater harvesting sites in schools within the same region. We have looked at the situation where families now have clear drinking water at home but when children are in school, often they still have to drink dirty and contaminated water.
This system collects the rain water with new roof guttering, stores it in large 500 litre storage tanks, cleans it through a chlorination process before piping directly to each classroom. The number of schools we reach will naturally be determined by the level of funding we receive.
It has been reported recently that all doctors in the province now insist on a family looking at having a BSF unit in their home if they report to them with symptoms of dirty and contaminated water, such as Cholera, cramps, etc.
On a recent visit to Kenya, Team Hope talked with many people from the community. *Florence talked about life before and after having a BSF unit in her home. She says that before they had a unit all her family were sick. Her children were often too sick to go to school, therefore missing out on a proper education. Her husband had been too sick to work.
Sadly it was too late for her husband, who died soon afterwards. But since they have had clear drinking water, all her children are healthy and now go to school regularly. She too feels healthy and ha expressed her huge gratefulness to the work of Team Hope and it’s partners for helping to make this happen.