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We provide fresh water and sanitation to villages in Western Zambia.
A significant part of our costs are for hygiene and sanitation and keeping all this going. We have a local team of community workers who engage in the mobilisation of the local villagers – and go back, and back, regularly to ensure that all is in working order. A fundamental principle is that the villagers can maintain the well themselves. We spend time, effort and money rehabilitating wells that have been put in by other organisations that have not taught the villagers how to carry out basic repairs themselves. Making good hygiene practices part of normal village life is vitally important to reduce contamination of the water supply and decrease the incidence of disease.
All this costs money. We insist on villagers building latrines (see right) rather than defecate in the bush around the village. This reduces the incidence of flies and contamination of the water supply, making a significant impact on the ease with which disease is spread.
When we looked in several African countries we found that there were other fresh water and sanitation providers working there. When we looked at Zambia we found that no one was working in Western Province. The provincial government accepted our proposals and we started work there.
Village Water UK was instrumental in registering Village Water Zambia as a stand-alone Zambian-registered charity in 2007. VWZ has a board of trustees headed by Mr James Kasongo. Village Water UK is in regular contact with Village Water Zambia, and UK trustees make regular trips to Zambia to see the work on the ground and talk to the Zambian staff.
Clubs from Rotary International have been regular donors for several years and they normally provide funds for the complete well installation, sanitation and hygiene education in particular communities. They invariably send a volunteer team to inspect the work in the recipient villages and to make independent checks that their money has been properly used. To date they have always issued satisfactory reports and have encouraged more clubs to support Village Water.
The photos on the web site show before and after effects of using clean water. Check out our interactive map and you will be able to see the villages where we work. Read the speech made by the head of Nalituya village.
We do not employ any expatriate staff in Zambia to carry out our work. All staff are African, locally engaged and highly skilled in water and sanitation work, although we occasionally use volunteers from the UK to undertake specific projects.
Once the Village Water field workers have got to know the villagers they encourage them to organise themselves by forming a Village Water & Sanitation Committee. The committee usually consists of equal numbers of men and women and they take responsibility for monitoring their community’s water, sanitation and hygiene practices. They also take responsibility for securing a commitment fee from all working villagers and collecting monthly maintenance subscriptions to fund replacement parts such as rubber seals.
We work with the villagers at all stages in the implementation of the clean water supply and we continue to monitor what happens afterwards. Because villagers elect a water committee, who collect money from the villagers for pump maintenance, there is much less chance of the well becoming unusable. In fact many villages are empowered by the way the programme has been introduced and go on to do other things themselves. The committee at Nalitongo have built a school so their children do not have to travel so far to attend (see right).
Will the pumps be maintained and will the villagers continue to have good hygiene and sanitation practices?
Villagers are trained in pump maintenance, and they also share a tool box with other villages so they can carry our basic repairs. Their hygiene and sanitation practices are monitored by the nearby regional health clinics. Increases in water borne diseases are quickly noticed and the village is visited and villagers are reminded and retrained
Field work in many countries confirms that access to toilet facilities, washing facilities and using soap is the most effective way to reduce water borne diseases.
The integrated approach of providing water, sanitation and hygiene reduces the number of deaths caused by diarrhoeal diseases by an average of 65%. (WHO)
The World Health Organization says that key measures to reduce the number of cases of diarrhoea include:
- Access to safe drinking water.
- Improved sanitation.
- Good personal and food hygiene.
- Health education about how infections spread.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says:
- Investment in water supply yields an average economic return of $4.4 to $1
- Investment in sanitation yields an average economic return of $9.1 to $1
- Human Development is more closely linked to access to water and sanitation than other development drivers UNDP has examined, including spending on health or education, and access to energy services.
We try to give communities the skills to learn to work together to develop other community projects. One village has built its own school and it has been adopted by the Government who now pays the teachers’ salaries. This village is used as an example to show new villages what they can do once their day to day water worries are resolved.
Have you got low overheads and how much of my money will be spent on real benefits to the villagers?
Other than one staff member, we are all volunteers in the UK and have been volunteers since the inception of Village Water. Hence we can put hand on heart and say that only a small part of your donations and grants is spent on administration. The remainder is transferred to the Village Water Zambia bank account in Lusaka, Zambia.
We have been in operation since 2002. You can read more about Village Water's history here.
An audit is conducted each year in Lusaka and an independent inspection of Village Water UK accounts is undertaken by a firm of Chartered Accountants in London.
Village Water is a UK registered charity no. 1117377. We file a copy of our Annual Report and Accounts with the UK Charity Commission every year, from where it is available online.