By Mike Sargent
While spending the week at the University of Dodoma (UDOM), we were given a presentation on a recent water study conducted by the College of Natural Sciences. Prior to our visit, they had visited four nearby villages to study the water channels and quality of water used. The methods – and village health – were drastically different from each other.
Although we had little time remaining, we chose to squeeze in a visit to see first hand the best and worst villages. At each village, we searched and searched for the village chief before proceeding with our tour. We quickly learned that village chief buy-in is a critical step in gaining approval and avoiding an unfriendly confrontation.
Starting with the first village, we found poor levels of agriculture quality and deep water holes that had very little water around six to eight feet below the surface. One astounding aspect was the extremely positive attitude the villagers displayed. They were clearly happy we had an interest in visiting and helping. One woman collecting water proudly slurped a gulp of what appeared to be mud. Although we recognized her pride in her village, we very much wanted to reach out and stop her.
This village was equipped with a windmill to power a bore hole that was designed to pull clean water up from the water table. Unfortunately it had been inoperable for over a year with no clear problem defined. in addition, sand had been taken from the river bed, which limited the potential to collect larger amounts of ground water.
The second village we visited was a night and day difference. The crops were in bloom, kids were playing a full scale soccer game, and there were multiple water sources that the villagers were able to access. The collection points in the river bed were full of water and a a fully operational diesel powered bore hole was jointly owned by 60 families. Compared to the first village, this one was definitely thriving.