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Rationale: There is no point building a water project if it is in a location that leads to it not being used or that inadvertently increases religious or inter-tribal conflict over power or control.
In 2004, Lifewater introduced Health & Hygiene workshops as part of its well program. The goal is to have these training workshops happen upfront, as part of the community mobilization effort. Empowerment through knowledge leads to immediate health benefits and motivates beneficiaries to actively contribute to planned water projects.
This training provides direct and immediate health benefits by covering topics such as "What is disease?", "How is Disease Transmitted?", "How do you break Disease Transmission Pathways?", and "What do you do with young children who have Running Stomach"? Ultimately, different water-related diseases all have the same symptom - diarrhea (or "running stomach") that causes rapid dehydration and can lead to death.
Education is important for on-going well maintenance; if people see clean water as being vital to them, they will be willing to occasionally spend a little time and money to keep their water supply safe and functioning reliably.
Wells need to be located in a place that balances technical factors along with social and cultural considerations. To learn more about these factors, see Lifewater Drill Manual Section 2 “Deciding Where to Drill”
Lifewater is mindful of the United Nation’s “Agenda 2030” (The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals) which set out a universal framework for action and global goals that are based on sustainable development principles. Target 6.b calls on development agencies to “Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management”.
Lifewater has done this for years and, as discussed below, we have learned that this is a critical part of successful long-term project maintenance. It is emotionally difficult to require a community to contribute when they have so little. But contribution of effort, materials and cash money creates the sense of ownership needed for long-term project maintenance. Further discussion on this can be found in our Free on-line Drilling Manual
In rural Kenya and Liberia, there were no problems with the communal nature of wells. Communities are based on social circles of support and the water clearly benefits everyone and is shared by all.
In more urban environments in parts of Haiti and Liberia, however, disputes sometimes developed over well ownership. Some wells were even “expropriated” and became private water supplies. Water was made available at the whim of the land owner, sometimes even at a price.
As a result, teams now require assurance from community leaders, with affirmation from local residents, that the land is community land and that the well will remain communal.
When we buy a house in Canada, we receive a property deed. When we buy a car, we receive a title and a bill of sale. These legal documents assign us as owners of the specified property, and help instill in us a sense of ownership and responsibility for its upkeep.
In the same way, the teams in Kenya and Liberia have been having “well dedication” parties since the very first wells were drilled in the 1990’s.
Since 2009, the team in Liberia has been issuing “Pump Deeds”, which have been presented to village chiefs at well dedications to clarify to all that the pump now belongs to the community.
The back side of the deed lists tasks for village Pump Repair Technicians and Caretakers to do on a daily, monthly and annual basis.