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Kaloko's clean water programme makes progress

· Safe water,Sanitation,Clean water

Over the last ten years, Kaloko has provided boreholes for many communities in the Copperbelt. Through generous funding from organisations like Just a Drop, we have not only provided sources of safe drinking water, but trained community volunteers to keep the supply sustainable. With access to clean water, sickness from diarrhoea and other diseases caused by drinking contaminated water has reduced. Although a day off work due to an upset tummy isn’t a major crisis in the UK, in rural areas of Zambia it means families must find money for medicine, as well as the loss of income or education for both the patient and carer.

In our summer Kaloko News, we listed the seven communities selected for new boreholes this year, based on a Department of Health assessment. It concluded that their water sources were completely unsafe due to contamination from villagers bathing, agricultural chemical run-off, and animals drinking, washing and defecating. One village in dire need of clean water was Chibukisho where villagers spent up to three hours a day collecting water from the unprotected shallow well.

Chibukisho’s new borehole was completed in November. Drilling a borehole and installing the pump is only part of the story; the successful handover required hard work and teamwork from both Kaloko and the community. To gain the best health outcomes, to keep the pump operational, and to prevent people returning to the old dirty water supply if a problem occurs, then the work needs to begin months before. Community participation and training are key, but made easier if the community is keen and able to learn. Kaloko has the advantage of working at a grassroots level, building up relationships and trust with the beneficiaries.

Kaloko staff first met with the community in May 2017 to help them set up a Water and Sanitation Committee (WSC) with 12 members. The WSC is responsible for managing simple repairs to the borehole; collecting maintenance funds; and promoting hygienic practices amongst the villagers.

In July 2018, the Chibukisho WSC joined other village WSCs to attend a Kaloko training workshop, based on the internationally recognised Community-Led Total Sanitation approach. Its provides clear lessons for participants which are easily passed on to other water users. The 10 days of training included how waterborne germs are spread, the importance of hand washing, proper food handling, why latrines are necessary and how to purify water with the UV rays from sunlight.

In one popular exercise, a participant was asked to sip from a glass of clean water. Afterwards, a small amount of animal waste was mixed into the remaining water and they were asked to take another sip. Of course, the offer was refused! The point was to highlight that the contaminated water in the glass was the same as drinking from an open well. Similarly, a participant was offered a dried fish contaminated the same way, emphasising the importance of hand washing before food handling.

Trainees learned about financial management, had practical borehole maintenance sessions, participated in team building and made a low water use, hygienic ‘tippy tap’ handwashing station using plentiful waste plastic bottles.

The Chibukisho community has a new hand pump and, once chlorination has been completed, a clean water supply, but also the knowledge and resources to keep it working and to reduce water-related ill health. A hand pump provides a hygienic way to collect water and the concrete apron stops a muddy contaminated mess.

Sylvie, aged 15, collects water for her household twice a day. She is excited about the new borehole and said, ‘I used to spend two hours a day fetching dirty water. As well as family members getting sick all the time, I used to miss school lessons because I had to walk so far. Thank you Kaloko for coming to make life better.’

Kaloko is committed to providing clean water to communities that are forced to rely on unsafe water sources. Every borehole brings the goal closer, but the remoteness of the Luansobe/Kashitu area means that plenty more communities need our assistance.