"My mother used to draw water from a well which is about a kilometre from our house. The water is contaminated and we often used to suffer from diarrhoea. We are very happy now because we have clean water and we do not have to walk long distances," says 11-year-old Sarah who lives with her family in Lembani Village.
"I also help my mother now because the water is next to our house and this has helped me to draw water for bathing and washing my clothes and school uniform. I am now able to go early to school and concentrate on my studies. We are really grateful to ChildFund for providing this borehole in our village because I never thought such a thing could be done for us."
Safe water is not something we have to think about much in new Zealand, but safe sources are few and far between in Luangwa, a remote area in Zambia, where almost 1,700 kiwis sponsor children and their community.
Many people have to collect water from the Luangwa River or nearby streams, but it’s dirty which puts them at risk of contracting parasitic diseases. Down by the river, crocodiles and hippos sometimes attack and kill people and the long journey on foot to the river puts people in the path of elephants, which are also dangerous.
In just three years, ChildFund New Zealand has funded 12 new boreholes in Luangwa, which provide clean water to 671 families – that’s more than 4,000 people. People used to have to travel many kilometres to collect water, taking them hours - but now people spend an average of just three minutes walking to their nearest borehole, saving the community a huge amount of time.
Many mums have told us how the boreholes have changed their lives. They have more time to earn an income, look after their children and do other household chores. The children are now attending school on time because they aren’t needed to help collect water. It also means that the children aren’t at risk from crocodiles, hippos or elephants, and fewer children are getting sick from water-borne illness.
Eighteen people have been trained to maintain the water pumps so if something breaks down then the community doesn’t require any outside assistance to restore it. ChildFund also trained 144 volunteers to teach others about hygiene and sanitation, including house-to-house visits where volunteers help identify unsafe water storage facilities, and where they relay messages about the importance of hand-washing and personal and household cleanliness for the prevention of diseases.
In Sarah’s village, people meet once a month to discuss the management of their new water facility. They have agreed the pump will be used only between midday and 6pm ensure it is not overworked. Each household contributes a small fee each month towards maintenance, or donates services such as cleaning the area or maintaining the fence around the borehole.
This project was supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme.
By Fiona Callen, Programme Analyst