Visiting our project regions is always a big pleasure for us here in the Vienna office. Nothing motivates the HELIOZ team more than seeing that what we work for actually makes an impact in a more rural part of the world.
In order to share with you what we are lucky enough to experience, our colleague Otto from program management wrote some of his impressions from his recent first trip to Uganda:
Bugiri Household visit
When we arrived, we were welcomed by a huge family who came to greet us and proudly show us around their household. Not only was the WADI smiling next to 10 PET water disinfected bottles on a drying rack with a tippy-tap constructed next to it, but they rushed to explain to us how they incorporated the practice in their everyday routines: wake up, collect water, wash their hands in the tippy tap before filling the bottles, place the WADI and wait for the sun to do the rest of the job while they could spend the rest of the time (which was normally used to boil water under the close attention of the women on the 3-stone fire stove) on other chores. To our surprise it was notable just how they invested this extra time - The floor of the whole compound was swept, the houses painted and even the bushes trimmed in the most extraordinary shapes. Everything was in place, and everyone had their little task within the community: they were busy and happy. They had clean water, shade provided by enormous trees which would not have to be cut for water boiling and a sense of proud ownership sparking in their eyes.
To achieve this, it was key addressing the primary beneficiaries of the practice: namely the women. It is they who have endured the burdensome task of boiling water, in silence, adding extra pressure on their already busy schedules. Once relieved from this task, by making everyone in the household responsible for the activity, there was something achieved that was bigger than just safe drinking water: a shared understanding and responsibility, not only among household members, but among the village community as a whole – something bringing them together and enabling a platform for mutual support. This is portrayed in the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) which are mostly composed by women who save money in a weekly basis, acting as a social fund in the case of future difficulties and as a bank enabling them to make investments to improve their livelihoods.
It was a great learning experience for us at HELIOZ to realize the profound effect that our little device, embedded within the program, could have on the communities. These households are isolated and therefore, hard to reach for government. WADI has not only provided them with safe drinking water, but with support and attention. It has enabled them to strengthen their communities around the leadership of our partners through good management practices and a contagious enthusiasm.