The Story of Dorze Village and its Broken Water Pump
If you want to know the gossip in any village on the continent of Africa, just go to the local village water pump! That’s where information is traded, people catch up, news is exchanged and business is done. The village of Dorze is high in the Rift Mountains just at the point where they cast their shadow over the twin lakes of Chamo and Abaya, in the region of Gamo Gofa – about a six hour drive south of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. However, the Dorze people have been without a water pump for over eight years. The hand pump worked perfectly for many years until a part broke. With no money for or access to the pump, and no direct line of responsibility or ownership, the local people were forced to go back to the traditional way of hauling dirty water from distant water sources.
Vita has partnered with the people of this area for many years, delivering sustainable livelihoods ranging from weaving co-ops to pottery co-ops, a potato seed multiplication co-op, an improved stoves programme, women’s enterprise projects, tree planting and poultry, to name but a few. And we have always created access to water, too, with rain-water harvesting, rope and washer-style individual household pumps and village level irrigation systems. However, we only recently got the opportunity to work with the communities on access to clean water.
This is a critical intervention for the community as it has massive health benefits in combatting water-borne disease. In terms of wellbeing, access to clean water drastically reduces the burden of drudgery on women, as they need to gather the wood required to boil dirty water in order to sanitise it. Of course, the job of fetching water usually falls to the children and when that water is nearby, this liberated the children’s time and enables them to attend school.
With over 2,500 people living in and around Dorze, the need for a working pump was a no-brainer and once the Vita Green Impact Fund had established it’s programme focus for Ethiopia we approached the people of Dorze with the plan to fix their old, broken down water pump in the heart of the village where the market happens twice a week.
Each village that we partner with forms a WASH (Water & Sanitation Hygiene) Committee to identify the challenges and potential of the project, and to take responsibility for delivery on their commitments, such as organising local labour to do the building works. Together we develop a twelve – point plan that ensures that the programme is sustainable. The plan includes training in water quality, technical training, sanitation and hygiene awareness as well as training in other areas such as book keeping and opening a bank account.
The project must be fully inclusive – nobody gets left behind – and affordable for even the most disadvantaged. Charging small sums is vital to the long-term sustainability of the project as then the local people have a sense of ownership of the well – they rebuild it using their own labour and some of their own money.
This particular well supports about 500 families, all of whom would previously have been depending on local wood resources to fuel their fires in order to boil the water. As a result of this clean water programme, a tremendous amount of trees have been save from being cut down and then burnt. The environmental impact of this is profound, as we measure it with our carbon certification partners Gold Standard from Switzerland. They then certify the carbon emissions savings from the pump (approximately 1,000 per pump per year) and issues Vita with a carbon credit certificate for each tonne of carbon prevented from being emitted.
In 2018 we were delighted to unveil the first of the batch of VGIF pumps, a low carbon solution to clean water access. It was thrilling to see the local people come at their allocated times to fetch their water – and even more fun to catch up with all the local news!