it’s just not simple

In Southern Rwanda, I visited the villages of Kanyonyera and Rubugu where I saw water lines and water taps recently constructed by a local partner organization. The cement platforms and structures were well constructed, and the piping and hardware well chosen and installed. A seemingly ideal image of water provision in a rural region.
In Kanyonyera, a woman by the name of Pellina told us of the value of this water tap. She said that they used to get water at the lake, which was dirty and was a long way to walk. This problem was compounded by children collecting water who could only stand on the edge of the lake, where the water was the dirtiest. To top it off, every year children would die from drowning in the lake. Pellina was happy about the clean, flowing water at the tap. 

A little while later I noticed Pellina, deep in conversation, did not seem happy. I found out that the mud bricks near the water tap were hers. She planned to build a house, but the land she was going to use was taken to build the water tap. Now she had clean, flowing water, but no place to build her house. In such circumstances, the Rwandan government works to compensate the individual and provide alternate land. But, that was still in the process of happening, and today Pellina was stuck in the middle of the complexities of development. She had mud bricks to use, she had access to clean water, and she had no place build her home.

Clean water provision is so simple on paper. People need water, and water is provided. People walk long distances carrying large quantities of water by hand or by head, and now they walk short distances. People had little water to spare for laundry and hand washing, and now more is available. It would seem that the simple provision of clean water would solve so many problems. And yet we were told of a another village where a team (not funded by Blood:Water) came in and drilled a well. Fantastic…except the people never used the well. I don’t know if the water did not taste good, did not smell good, was in a politically poor location in the village, or if there was some other cultural issue. Bottom line is that a well was drilled but was not used; a ‘simple’ solution did not work. 

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