WaterStep Staff Member Doug Lark writes about his experience on a recent trip to Uganda.
Down a dusty dirt road several miles from the nearest paved highway is the rural village of Kabowa, Uganda (GPS 0 degrees, 32 minutes, 46 seconds N, 31 degrees, 16 minutes, 31 seconds E). Like many rural villages in Uganda, safe water is an issue in the community. Most of their available water was down a hill to an open source pond about 2 km away.
With your help, that has changed. On June 12, 2015, the final construction was completed and a new well with a hand pump was inaugurated. Your shoe drives and financial donations allowed WaterStep to sponsor this well. The well is located just a short distance from the secondary school.
After the well was dedicated, trainers from the Rural Health Care Foundation taught community leaders health and hygiene basics using the Community Lead Total Sanitation Method. This popular training technique involves the whole community in the importance of practicing good hygiene and sanitation habits. Training will be an on-going process through the entire project.
The WaterStep team in Nepal has trained over 200 people in water treatment and health education, and they finished out their week by going to do local installations in other earthquake-affected regions of Nepal.
After years of experience in disaster relief, the WaterStep staff redesigned their training programs to deliver greater impact to the areas needing access to safe water and hygiene. Instead of responding to disasters with large teams on the ground, WaterStep realized that they could be more effective by sending a small team to train local non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) in water treatment and health education. Those NGO’s can then use what they’ve learned and take it back to other areas to train even more people, multiplying the effect of WaterStep’s efforts.
At WaterStep, training includes not only water treatement education, but also health education, a critical part of our work. Both pieces come together to promote better health in communities around the world. WaterStep’s disaster relief in Haiti, India, Costa Rica, and the Philippines revealed that health education was crucial to improved health. Our health education teachers walk trainees through basic practices like how to make a hand washing station with common materials, protect homes from flies, prevent common types of parasites from spreading, and treat diarrheal illness in babies, children and adults. Paired with water treatment training, these two strategies can provide long-term solutions for a community.
Our team in Nepal has been encouraged and inspired by the response to their training. Many Nepali people walked and traveled for days over tough terrain to reach the training location. A member of parliament attended the training along with Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus. The diversity of the individuals trained through this trip will not only save lives but help bridge cultural divides. At WaterStep, we believe peace and health can be achieved through water.
WaterStep’s disaster relief work in Nepal will not only address the immediate needs of the earthquake affected people, but it will improve their water access for years to come.
This installation was successful through partnerships within the community, a key part of community development. Ravi explained that he met with the Village Secretary once he knew he was ready to install in the village. The Secretary allowed him to install the purifier in his home, a central area where anyone could come for purified water.
After gathering supplies, they began their installation. When they encountered several minor problems, Ravi called the WaterStep headquarters and spoke with our experts to walk him through solutions. WaterStep’s Doug Lark helped Ravi and his team get the chlorine level to an appropriate measurement and after just one day, the M-100 war running smoothly.
Ravi’s work didn’t finish with the installation. His partners on the ground will continue to monitor how much water is being used, how many people are accessing the water, and collect notes on the improved health of the community.
Ravi’s project is a great example of how WaterStep can empower you and your team to partner community development with safe water. Interested in bringing an M-100 water purifier with you on your next trip? Learn more about WaterStep training.
Also, check out Ravi’s firsthand account of his experience on his blog,ShantiSeva.
When earthquakes struck Nepal last month, WaterStep immediately began planning our response. We are ready to send 100 chlorine generators with five staff members and volunteers to Nepal to train locals and provide the technology they need to access safe water.
What impact can 100 purifiers have?
We saw in the Philippines in 2013 that by training locals and NGOs already responding to disasters, our work could be multiplied to greater areas and have an even bigger impact.
Instead of temporary solutions, like water bottles or purifying tablets, the M-100 water purifiers will be a solution to the water problems in a community for years to come. With each purifier capable of providing safe water to 10,000 people a day, the impact can be immense.
Our friend ND Lama, originally from Nepal, has led our efforts to connect with locals in the area and set up training sites so anyone can come and learn how to operate the simple M-100 water purifier.
Our work in Kaabowa Village is just beginning. Our partners at the Rural Health Care Foundation sent us photos of their Phase One implementation, and we are encouraged and inspired by their results.
Because of your support through financial giving and shoe donations, Phase One has been completed, and we have dug a new well in Kaabowa Village. This is the first and most crucial step to accessing safe water and improving the health of this Ugandan community.
Phase Two is next and you can learn more or support our mission by going to our water project page. During Phase Two, we will:
Construct pit latrines and continue sanitation education
Install water purification systems at schools and the health center
Install rain harvesting systems at schools and the health center
WaterStep’s Doug Lark will travel to Kaabowa village in June to check up on the project and send back even more results, photos, and stories. We are excited to bring you more updates and continue working together to bring safe water to the entire community of Kaabowa.