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The story of safe water doesn't start and end with laying pipes. While WaterAid and our partners help to install everything from tanks to taps, community leaders are using their own skills to help everybody make the most out of safe water.

It's difficult to miss Jack as he cycles around Lubunda. Sporting blue overalls, twirling a wrench and with the biggest grin you'll ever see, Jack says his role as the local pump mechanic has made him something of a local celebrity.

"Maintaining 119 taps means working with many people. Everybody calls ‘Hey, Jackie!’ when they see me coming."

The next generation

Born and raised in Lubunda, Jack cultivates cassava, rice, watermelon and groundnuts which is enough to feed his family. Though now, with his children grown up, he has more time on his hands.

Last year, he undertook technical training with Luapula Water, a local water supplier supported by WaterAid, learning how to maintain the water tower installed on the edge of the village. Jack is now also an expert in fixing broken taps around the village and conserving the water supply so that the whole community gets equal access.

When they were growing up, his children suffered from waterborne diseases like diarrhoea and cholera. Keeping his three grandchildren healthy is one of the reasons Jack is passionate about ensuring the safe water supply is flowing. "Who knows? Maybe I will train them to be pump mechanics too," he smiles.

Lubunda hygiene promoter Mary Bupe shows off the bananas she's recently harvested.

Mary

Lubunda prides itself on having some of the most delicious bananas in the district. Pass through the nearby market town, Mwense, and you'll see reams of the fat, ripe fruit that farmers like Mary Bupe earn a living from growing.

When Mary isn't growing bananas, she plays a key role in the Lubunda's water, sanitation and hygiene committee. Now that safe water and toilets are available throughout the community, Mary helps spread the word about how to live cleaner lives.

“I am motivated by the need for development in our village,” she says, “our village must be dirt free to be disease free.”

It's not always an easy role. She explains that some older people can be resistant to talking about private issues, like how they take care of their toilet.

Mary says she's learned to speak to people in a tactful way to help persuade them to make healthy changes, such as investing in better toilet technologies, or spending more time washing their hands.

Children

With children, it's much easier. When she offers a demonstration on handwashing, kids flock around to take part in the demo. "The only thing more popular for them is football!"

Mary is confident that the new piped water supply will help her children grow up healthier. "It's not just an issue of the safe water being free from diseases, but about being able to wash before they eat. They're kids, so they play around in the dirt, always messing up their hands. Now we can be sure they won't get sick with the tap right beside the house."

Read more stories of the amazing change safe water has made in Lubunda >