Upon completion of the project, our partner in the field reports...
"Everyone in this community was used to fetching water from swamps. You would see people wandering in swamps in the evening." This reality was faced daily by 243 families living in Kinama Village in southern Ruhango, Rwanda. Safe water was not an option. Not only was a swamp located three kilometers away from the community primarily used to meet the community’s water needs, but unprotected hand-dug wells and other forms of surface water were depended on as well. Unsafe water was not, however, the only crippling effect of surviving in an undeveloped community, as unsafe hygiene and sanitation behaviors had forced families to subsist in a seemingly eternal cycle of poverty. Diseases including typhoid, malaria, respiratory disease, diarrhea and severe dehydration morbidly affected families. Forced to choose between dehydration and disease, community leaders visited a neighboring community where Living Water Rwanda was working and asked for help. Living Water responded!
To further work already done by other NGOs, including Care International and SNV that are working to provide social assistance and family planning, the Living Water team diligently worked to secure safe drinking water in Kinama Village. Safe drinking water will set the foundation for community development, allowing families to take an initial step out of extreme poverty. During the construction of the improved water point, the community formed a five-person Water Committee who assisted with the water project whenever possible, supplied any materials they had available and guarded the team’s equipment. The Water Committee was also trained to maintain the improved water point and properly manage water resources – with an end goal of creating a sustainable water system that will benefit Kinama Village for this generation and the next.
There are three churches in the village including a Catholic church, Protestant church and Adventist church. These churches exist in a predominantly Protestant and Catholic area, where most people have been introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, to see Christlike love displayed in a community desperate for water, a community that did not “expect this to happen,” brings new meaning to the gospel message. Not only was the name of Jesus spoken to 243 families living in Kinama Village, but also the Good News of Jesus Christ was shared with 148 people (40 men, 58 women and 50 children).
Securing safe drinking water in thirsty communities is foundation to community development. However, safe water alone is not enough. During the Hygiene Promotion, the Living Water team addressed life-saving lessons on hygiene and sanitation through two trainings. The fist training engaged 82 people that participated and benefited from the following lessons: disease transmission, healthy and unhealthy communities, latrine perception, germs, proper care of the pump, keeping the water clean, hand washing proper techniques and water saving methods, causes of diarrhea, good-bad hygiene behaviors, disease transmission and prevention stories, tippy taps, nutrition and oral hygiene. The second training was attended by 20 people (9 men and 11 women). During this training, the team emphasized the importance of solely utilizing the improved water point for all water needs. Before entering the community with safe drinking water, families were forced to use water collected from a nearby swamp to support all of their water needs. The team urged families to no longer use the swamp water, and families agreed!
Community Member Interview
"Everyone in this community was used to fetching water from swamps. You would see people wandering in swamps in the evening," shared 26-year-old community member and farmer, Niragire. "This well will stop us from collecting water that way. Swamp water has never been clean, but we were using it anyway, because we had no other option. It feels good to have clean water. We did not expect this to happen!"