By Bruce Mulenga, Zambia Red Cross Society
The recent bad weather caused by the El Niño event has resulted in insufficient rainfall and decreased sources of drinking water for the majority of Zambians, especially those living in rural areas.
Nasilele Mubita, 35, and her family live in Lusheshe village in Limulunga district of Western province. Like many others in the village, Nasilele drew her drinking water from an unprotected hand-dug shallow water well situated about 500 metres from her home. She complains that the water was dirty because their animals also drank from the same shallow well. As a result, she and her children regularly suffered from diarrhoea.
“I always had a member of my family complain of diarrhoea. If it was not me then it was one of my children. The water we drank was dirty. I didn't feel good about drinking such kind of water but there was no choice,” complains Nasilele. Two or three times a month, she was making a long cycle ride to the nearest clinic for treatment, often in the dark.
Nasilele understands the importance of safe water but there was no facility in her village for the past several years. She says that if there was a hand pump close to home, life would change and she would be happy.
The Zambia Red Cross Society believes everyone should have access to clean and safe water and has provided a bore hole that supplies clean and safe water to the community. Today, Nasilele and more than 130 other community members have access to clean and safe water whenever they need it.
“Since this bore hole was constructed, my family no longer complains of diarrhoea,” says Nasilele. “The water is clean and the distance to the water source has drastically been reduced because the well is near my home. I thank the Red Cross for this assistance.”
The Zambia Red Cross Society has further organized a water committee of pump minders who provide maintenance work to the well. Semi-professional pump minders are also on hand to fix more technical problems. The committee has introduced a monthly subscription fee of about two cents per household to enable them to procure spare parts and conduct repairs when needed. This system has enabled the community to take ownership of the well and has promoted sustainability of the project.
The Zambia Red Cross Society has provided 28 boreholes in Limulunga district. Water committees in these locations are also carrying out hygiene education with families to ensure that the water sources are always kept clean and that people boil their water before drinking.
This initiative is implemented with financial and technical support from the Netherlands Red Cross.