Guest Blog: Melissa Quinn, Manager of Digital Partnerships, Run for Water
Water for Waraba Series, Part 3: Milestone 1 Complete, Assessment and Planning
Overcoming the first milestone of a water project requires local support, engagement and inspiration from all those involved to lay the foundation for effective training and collaboration. We’re excited to report that we’ve completed milestone 1 of the Waraba project! What does that entail you ask?
Once Waraba was identified as a high-priority community desperate for clean water, the next step was to schedule multiple consultation meetings where community members, district government officials and development workers can attend to plan the project together. These meetings are essential to ensure the project will have the best impact as possible for the community, and help us avoid major mistakes that could happen with simple assumptions on our part.
We intentionally sought out an incredible team of Ethiopians, imagine1day, who were already working hard to empower the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Ethiopia. imagine1day facilitated the project management and implementation in Waraba; we are proud to support this work by Ethiopians, for Ethiopians.
At the start of community consultation phase, locals identify lack of access to clean water as one of their primary challenges which, due to extreme shortage of resources and abilities, has been impossible for them to solve. Much of the community consultation is dedicated to reversing this mindset and showing them the abundance of local resources they have to successfully contribute to the water project. For these communities which have been marginalized to the outskirts and whose voice holds little value even to the regional government of Ethiopia, it is not surprising why there is often a feeling of discouragement and disempowerment among them.
When we outline our involvement as a partnership between us and the community, and go through the list of resources we each are bringing to the table, there is often a sense of empowerment already instilled. They are now equals in this process; it’s not a hand-out, it’s a hand-up.
Our development workers train locals on effective community mobilization; long-term financial planning; various forms of income generating activities; various uses for locally found natural resources, leadership skills…etc. In Waraba, we also implemented strategies for community involvement to increase awareness around the capacity of clean water to bring transformational change to the entire community. Information is disseminated throughout the community through gatherings, posters, and banners. Following this, individuals come forth with a strong passion and desire to support the project, and a water management committee is formed. This committee champions the project and closely follows the engagement, project development and resource mobilization up until completion. Following completion, this committee stays engaged and monitors any challenges and keeps the community working to thrive off their new resource.
The Waraba water committee came together and enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity to work together to help their community improve and thrive. With this committee, another thorough analysis is completed and documented on the community’s needs, specifically as it relates to waterborne illnesses and the beneficiaries in the community. The picture below is one of the currently used water sources within the community of Waraba.
Imagine1day then puts a bid out for a local water engineer and starts the water preparation. The water hydrologists and engineers from Ethiopia have now completed all the planning and appropriate testing! Since the community and skilled individuals have created the projects plans and all necessary specifications. While this may not sound like a difficult task, this was no easy feat to overcome.
With 3186 people to be benefiting from this water source, it was imperative to consider the following factors when creating the specifications for the water source:
– There are places where there may be a water source, but it is of low quality and quantity, which would lead to an unsustainable source for that amount of community members;
– Girls and women are currently walking more than 6km to fetch water, which is rife with diseases, and the current source needs to be closer than that.
Nonetheless, a perfect location was identified, and the next step required was hiring locals. This project will create jobs for 20 unskilled individuals, and 5 highly skilled individuals within the community. This is a great opportunity for locals to gain skills, and extra income without traveling far from their home. The rest of the locals have joined them in digging trenches, backfilling, mixing the cement, loading and unloading materials, and supporting the supply of sand, gravel, fencing wood, etc.. This equates to 20-30% of the work for the entire project, and is immensely important to the overall success of the project! We’re so grateful to have a water committee that is extremely supportive of obtaining these workers and resources, and a community that is so enthusiastic about collaborating.
As we move forward onto milestone number two, purchasing and obtaining all the materials, we’ve learned so much about Waraba and the amazing people within the community. In a relatively short period, the community is incredibly inspired and thoroughly informed about the project. To no avail, the community has long been requesting their local government for support, but the finances weren’t available to help; finally, now, the community has come together to fight for what they need and finding an innovative solution they can all participate in. By contributing their labour, materials, and ability to educate, the community has taken ownership of the project and is eager to move ahead quickly!
Upon completing this first milestone, we learned the following important lessons:
– Improved access to affordable and safe water for the community is a definite possibility, and we have a sustainable plan for implementation;
– We can provide water to 3186 individuals, and improve the sanitation and hygiene practices of 1719 members of the community;
– Overall, the education of clean water usage, good hygiene practices, and water shade management is a long-term educational goal for the community. While we’ve started with the initial steps of learning the importance, throughout the next year we will be more focused on bringing in experts to do hands-on training for the community;
– Obtaining a water committee was key to obtaining community engagement and participation in the project, as a result, we’ve seen a cultural shift in the entire community;
– Hiring local skilled and unskilled labour will increase the long term success and sustainability of the project by creating a sense of pride and ownership.
We look forward to updating you on as we progress with Milestone number 2, and start to make a visible impact in the community of Waraba!
Thank you for following along with this project and supporting the many individuals whose lives will be changed. We’re so grateful to be partnering with BitGive and using GiveTrack as a platform to be transparent with the project’s development. We are almost 20% of the way through our fundraising goals, to support the project you can donate quickly and easily here.
Contact: Melissa Quinn at [email protected]