Hygiene Education And Sustainable Water In Zambia, Africa
Village Water provides hygiene education and sustainable water for rural villages in western Zambia. We only install protected shallow wells with manual water pumps that allow the people to draw uncontaminated water from underground.
Diarrhoea, particularly among children, is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in Zambia and a major contributor to malnutrition. The safe disposal of human excreta, coupled with basic hygiene practices such as hand washing with soap are key to breaking the cycle of disease transmission for diarrhoea, particularly amongst children under five.
Our teams of field workers have the job of mobilising the people
Each community must set up a village water committee.
The treasurer collects small monthly donations from each working adult. This allows them to fund spare parts and keep the pump in good repair.
Two villagers, one man, one woman, are trained as pump minders.
Embark on a sanitation programme where they dig their own pit latrines, one per family.
Install a hand washing facility at the exit of each latrine.
Engage in hygiene education classes concerning kitchen and food cleanliness, dog control and children’s needs.
Village Water programmes have an immense and long-lasting impact
Children can wash regularly and good hygiene practice is maintained; avoiding the life-threatening diseases caused by insufficient water and poor hygiene practice.
Families no longer go hungry as the water grows plentiful supplies of nourishing food.
A local source of water gives village women the time to create their own local enterprise and children the time to attend school.
A sustainable and reliable source of water allows farmers to harvest crops throughout the year instead of the single crop reliant on the rainy season. Surplus food can be sold at local markets.
Money made through their enterprise enables families to pay for medicines and an education for their now-healthy children.
Village Water believes that no one should be deprived of water in our modern world.
Key to the work of Village Water is the groundwork carried out by local field workers. These are professional community workers who encourage the villagers to organise themselves by forming a Village Water & Sanitation Committee. The formation of the Committee proves if the village has the vitality to take ownership of the well and pump seriously, the capacity to pay a small commitment fee for the well of around £20 (pounds sterling) and the ability to fund the running costs. Such ownership is essential to ensure sustainability.
In such isolated regions, connection to mains water pipes is not viable. An independent source of water must therefore be located in order for a well to be installed. Village Water uses local knowledge as well as the skills of UK volunteer water diviners to locate the water, following which local contractors are brought in to dig the shallow well.
Another important aspect of the work of Village Water is the Community-Led Total Sanitation Programme(CLTS). Villagers are educated in good hygiene practice and shown the benefits of self-help sanitation. Hygiene education focuses on helping the villagers to understand: firstly, what causes health-related problems and secondly, choosing what measures to take, in order to address the problem. Training focuses on water treatment, water collection, water storage and water use. Then we cover latrine building, latrine use, hand washing, food storage and preservation, excreta disposal and general cleanliness. Using stories, song, dance, pictures, music and humour the community workers sensitise the villagers to a new way of thinking and understanding.
To accompany the hygiene education, Village Water hygiene and sanitation programmes support the provision and maintenance of sanitary facilities in schools and villages. For each village, the villagers are taught how to construct various pieces of sanitation equipment. They are then advised and expected to construct one pit latrine per household. This is typically 25 per village. We also advise that each household should construct one bath shelter, one pot rack, one mortar stand, and one hand washing basin (all of which they have been taught how to build).
Pump Mender Training
To ensure sustainability of the pump after installation, Village Water trains two villagers to safely and effectively carry out all basic maintenance on the well. To complement this, semi-professional Pump Minders, who are able to fix more technical problems, look after the villages where wells have been provided. The monthly subscription fee, set up by the villagers when the well is installed, pays for any repairs. Typically, the subscription is 10pence per working adult per month (in local currency, the Zambian kwacha).
Across Zambia there are a substantial number of abandoned water pumps where no sustainability strategy was put in place by the organisation that installed it. Abandonment occurs when a village has not requested the well, is not given ownership of the well and the villagers are not trained to maintain the well. Having established a system that ensures wells remain in use in perpetuity, Village Water includes in its programmes the refurbishment of abandoned wells. Carrying out the repair in conjunction with a full Village Water community mobilisation, and hygiene and sanitation programme avoids the pitfalls that caused the well to be previously abandoned after it was installed.
Monitoring and Evaluation
We try to make annual visits to each village. A locally employed Village Water Field Officer checks that the well is still working and that sufficient sanitation equipment has been installed. Under a monitoring and evaluation scheme now being trialled, the village is then given a percentage score. A perfect village will display a maintained pump, one toilet and hand washing stand per family, one vegetable and plate rack per family, a suitable number of refuse pits and all rubbish put in a pit and buried. If the village is performing well they will receive a highly prized hand-stitched leather football, purchased by Village Water from the local Zambian charity ‘Alive and Kicking’. If the village is performing badly, local field workers will speak with the community and work with them to encourage a renewed effort. The information is currently collated on a spreadsheet. We are in the process of developing a database to maintain these statistics.