Day 3 - Enabling private companies to participate in the solution and the hardwork of the women of Samakondo
Mamboova and Samakondo, Kazangula district, Zambia.
Another fascinating and inspiring day, meeting some wonderful characters!
We had an early start and drove 70 kms from Livingstone to Kazungula - a district at the crossroads with four countries: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. The population of the area is increasing rapidly and this is consequently putting a strain on water resources.
Mamboova is a typical small town settlement in the district, situated about 10km from the Zambezi river and 300m from a small oxbow lake which provides the community with a water source. WaterAid is working with the local water utility company, SWSCO, to provide Mamboova with a solar powered water scheme which will supply clean, affordable water to the 2,500 residents and 1,000 transient workers. SWSCO engineer, Ndilakulampa Hamalambo showed us around the solar powered pump and outlined plans for the future, including increased water storage and treatment plants.
Currently, the solar powered pump is fitted with 18 solar panels which power a pump taking water from the nearby oxbow lake, treating, then distributing it via water tanks and kiosks to the local community. As a commercial company, SWSCO are reluctant to target communities who are unable to afford their commercial water charges, so without WaterAid's support, they would not have been able to work with the most vulnerable and poor communities like Mamboova.
Following that visit, we travelled a short distance to pay a fascinating and privileged visit to the district traditional leader, Chief Sekutee. This courtesy visit or 'kalesto' is traditional etiquette for all visitors. Sitting on the floor in Mamboova Palace we summoned the chief with a short burst of hand claps. Chief Sekutee is 81 years old and has been chief for over 30 years. As chief he owns all the traditional district land and has a responsibility to care for the local communities. WaterAid and its partners work closely with traditional leaders such as Chief Sekutee to make sure the community are bought in and to build strong partnerships. Chief Sekutee spoke graciously and generously about the positive impact of WaterAid's work in his community and hoped we would continue to support them and the many challenges they face.
From Chief Sekutee, we moved on to Samakondo village in Sikaunzwe ward, which has been declared an ODF zone (Open Defecation Free zone). This means each household has a latrine. Our work here began in 2011 and continues to support the community on water supply challenges.
Samakondo village itself is spotlessly clean with impeccably neat homesteads and yards. There are 80 households in the community and headman Gabriel Samakondo told us proudly that he upholds very strict hygiene rules. In extreme cases individuals can be banished from the village for unhygienic practices.
Despite its ODF zone designation and neat, welcoming appearance, the village faces huge challenges in accessing clean, safe water. Village women walk 2kms 4 - 8 times each day, up a rough dirt track, to collect water to drink, cook and wash from an open stream. We walked up to the water source with the women and watched as they sifted the surface water to clear away visible impurities, before filling their 20kg buckets. This is time-consuming and strenuous; it is incredible to think that women such as Alice and Grace Samakondo (both in their 60s) carry this out multiple times, each day.
As a show of solidarity, the UK water company executives (all men) decided to carry the water back to the village for the women. It was a remarkable and inspiring sight to see Peter, John, Luis and Richard balance the 20kg containers on their heads (just as the local women do) and walk the 2km along the dirt track, back to the villlage. As Peter Farrer from Scottish Water remarked afterwards,
for one afternoon, in one village, the women were smiling as men fetched water back from the stream!