Last November I announced a big win for Wakonye Kenwa. Our research and persistent lobbying won a promise from the District Water Office to drill a new borehole for the community of Obiya West. Its now February. So, you may ask, what happened?
We continued to hassle sporadically. Lots of excuses. Then, one day in late November, many of us were gathered for a kindergarten graduation. Yup, you read that right- a kindergarten graduation complete with brass brand-led march from Lacor Hospital, all the way down Juba road to the Kindergarten, 4 year olds in full regalia. Several hours into this lengthy event, a truck pulls up. The contractor hadn’t contacted any of us, but was lucky enough to arrive on a day when half the community were together. We briefly abandoned the nackered wee 4 year olds to hunt for water with the contractor and his fancy equipment. Water spouts forth, and a couple of weeks later:
BUT, its still not complete. It remains a deep pipe poking out the ground, no spout for the water, no handle to pump with. After continual hassling, the contractor said he’d return when the community has appointed a committee to oversee protection and maintenance. A meeting was called to appoint the committee. Then our usual problem reared its ugly head. People didn’t show up. From the fifteen attendees, we scraped together a makeshift committee to fulfill the requirement.
Then the best moment came. A member of group, Kidega,* who has worked dam hard to bring this borehole to his community stood up looking pretty frustrated:
“When this borehole is finished, I will come and lock it, and it will stay locked until we hold a proper meeting.”
His point is that the community must actually meet, agree on use rules and an adequate monthly household contribution for repairs before it starts getting used. It’s a community asset, and it needs to protected collectively, or it will become broken and abandoned like so many boreholes around here. More over, our group wants to make sure the community knows the story of how it got here. We want them to know it didn’t just drop randomly from the pockets of distant donors. They need to know their own neighbors worked and fought for it. We want them to believe they can make change.
So I was quietly stoked that Kidega played hard ball. Some time this month, they’ll come finnish the work. Kidega will lock the borehole, then we’ll see if people can get their act together and show up.
*I don’t use peoples real names in this blog
Thanks for the update and nice one Kidega – hope enough folk step up so’s you can unlock it. You and your fellow local activists are amazing and I wish you well!
Cheers Louise, I do hope so too 🙂
Hey, that’s really exciting guys! Lovely to see it written in detail like this. Look forward to hearing what happens when he locks the gate – will they get their act together? The suspense is killing me!
Great work. Your comment re ensuring people know the story of how their own neighbours fought for it is good. This brings ownership, rather than casual acceptance. Had a smile at your sentence with ” has worked dam hard” was it deliberate? You are doing so well.
unintentional pun 😛 Hope you and Jean are well xx
Exciting progress guys! Its really interesting to hear about your community’s development project from the inside perspective, the frustrations with community ownership, system complications and the wins. And yah for the kindergarten graduates, a brass band!