“Hope is a verb with it’s sleeves rolled up”. — David Orr, ‘Hope Is an Imperative’
Our first week in Uru brought its own reminders of how much cooperative effort is required in a community participation project. ICBD’s role continues to adapt to the project’s needs, but after the start-up investment and efforts, a great deal of the project then relies on the Uru community’s abilities to self organize and contribute wherever possible.
The distribution line from the Grandmother Well at Kimocholo to our initial four villages and sub-areas (10 access points) has been funded through Uru community contributions and subsidized with a loan from ICBD. This allows the communities full ownership and ensures sustainable management of the system. Many well intended projects here in Africa end up failing within 5 years due to poor planning for community participation or limited understanding of the people’s resources.
In our ‘pilot program’, a simple system of collecting monies for the pails of water being purchased at the access points, with accountability and a small ‘commission’ paid to the kiosk attendants, has been implemented. ICBD is assisting the community in the formation of a registered company, the Uru Waters Company, that will provide the community with transparent bookkeeping for monies collected. These monies will eventually cover the electricity needed to pump the water from the well and provide monies in reserve for system maintenance and repairs.
In the meantime, we are all working together to correct any small problems with the water system that are now appearing with water flowing plentifully along this first line. In fact, the water is flowing so abundantly within the new line, that we are being required to ‘slow the flow down’ with a simple pressure reduction approach (several concrete pressure boxes placed strategically along the line to slow the flow) so water doesn’t blast through at some points along the pipeline. Too MUCH water: what a good problem to have!
After a week of meetings, systems review, planning and a little time taken for patting one another on the back… we finished the week Saturday in Moshi town. James, Yana and I had a scheduling meeting at the Union Coffee Shop, which is the people’s coffee cooperative for some of the world’s best and locally produced Arabica coffee. From the porch of the coffee shop and eventually from the balcony of our lunch spot Dela Chez, we took in the many sights and sounds of the busy Moshi people and streets.