The Ripple Effect of Clean Water

Reposted with thanks to Thomson Safaris

Maasai women collect water at FoTZC funded borehole

Maasai women collect water at FoTZC funded borehole

Twenty years. There’s a weight to that number that’s hard to ignore.

It feels like just yesterday that Judi Wineland and a group of Thomson Safaris travelers came together to see how they could give back to Tanzania. But the group that became Thomson’s sister philanthropy arm, Focus on Tanzanian Communities (FoTZC), has now been around for fully two decades.
 

Judi Wineland in Tanzania circa 1980

Judi Wineland in Tanzania circa 1980

n honor of that anniversary, FoTZC wants to refocus on fundamentals. And whether you’re talking about health outcomes, education, or women’s empowerment, there’s nothing more fundamental than clean water.

In remote northern areas of Tanzania, the only water source might be miles away, and ridden with dangerous diseases like cholera or dysentery.

Waterborne disease is so common in the region, in fact, that the Sukenya Medical Dispensary (completed by FoTZC in 2015), reports that 4/10 of the most common illnesses they see result directly from tainted water: diarrhea, dysentery, eye infections, and typhoid fever.

Even without the obvious dangers of disease, the trek for water itself is fraught. Women and children often walk up to eight hours round-trip for water, meaning they’re unable to pursue an education or participate in the workforce. And the trip is often undertaken alone, through sparsely inhabited regions. Sexual assault is an ever-present threat.
 

To FoTZC, the need for better access to clean water was clearly the core issue.
…actually, make that the “bore” issue.

Over the next three years, FoTZC has committed to drilling five new boreholes, which will serve over 3,000 individuals.

A completed borehole near Sukenya Primary School is a perfect case study. Since clean water has been made available, absenteeism at the school—most often due to illness or students being forced to trek long distances for water—has plummeted by almost two-thirds.

The benefits are expected to spread to the entire community. Freed from the need to travel long distances for water, women can focus on creating and maintaining their own small businesses with the aid of FoTZC’s COCOBA (Community Conservation Banking) microfinance program.
 

And future projects will benefit, too. Currently, construction workers haul water hundreds of miles through rugged terrain. When water is available on site, however, this huge expense is eliminated, meaning every donated dollar goes further towards the kind of education, healthcare, and community empowerment projects FoTZC has been undertaking for 20 years.

What better way to celebrate the two-decade milestone than by ensuring that communities can rely on one of the most fundamental resources around, one that has the possibility of rippling down into more and more positive outcomes: clean, safe, accessible water.
 

Thanks to a generous matching campaign, every dollar donated to FoTZC, up to $50,000, will be fully matched through September 30, 2017.

Double your impact by giving today!

School Lunches

Primary school children at lunch time

The Tanzanian government requires that all children go to school, however in rural areas like Loliondo, children are needed at home to help with herding and housework. Often, housework seems to hold a higher priority than schoolwork.

It has been observed that one way to increase attendance is for schools to provide lunches. Last year, Sukenya Primary School was forced to stop providing lunches to children. During the drought, there was not enough water for drinking, let alone for the school to cook meals for the children. School attendance was down, and those students who did attend had trouble focusing on their classes.

In response, we extended piping from the dispensary borehole and installed a water tank and tap at the school, so they have been able to start cooking lunches for the students again. This has increased attendance, and should increase student engagement in the classroom.

Over the next three years, we plan to drill five boreholes. Not only will these provide drinking water, but they will supply schools with water for cooking, which in turn will improve education for students at the primary schools. The effect of these boreholes ripples through life in Loliondo. We hope you'll support us in this endeavor.

 

Asante Sana!

William Alais, Oloipiri Ward Councilor, and Judi Wineland, FoTZC Director, listening to the concerns of local elders.

William Alais, Oloipiri Ward Councilor, and Judi Wineland, FoTZC Director, listening to the concerns of local elders.

Constance Cork, President of Focus on Tanzanian Communities’ Board of Directors, recently received a heartfelt note from William Alais, Oloipiri Ward Councilor. As a village elder and respected member of the community, William understands the challenges facing the men, women and children he represents.

We thought it was important to share Williams’ sentiments with you, so you can hear how, in his own words, your support has impacted the lives of thousands of lives in northern Tanzania.

Dear FoTZC President,

On behalf of the people of Oloipiri Ward, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for the great work that FoTZC has assisted and supported and are still committed to doing in our area since the start of our partnership in early 2008. Again I am taking this opportunity to acknowledge the work your board has done over the years and other upcoming projects that the board will be committed to doing in the future. As leader from Oloipiri Ward and on behalf of my own people, I want your board to know that the people I serve and I personally appreciated your support so much that we truly are blessed to have received these projects that we actually needed for years. I believe that your board does understand some of our felt needs as the community you are working with. We indeed needed medical services, economic empowerment, education and water among others, no wonder your board responded with compassionate heart. That is why we value our partnership, consequently here is our appreciations; the construction of the Sukenya medical dispensary including staff housing, drilling of water boreholes, toilet and solar power installation has been nothing but a gift of health that the people of Sukenya missed for years like other many rural communities in Tanzania. This has drastically shortened long distances that women and children could have walked for health services.

Additionally, through your support women have been economically empowered through micro-projects of beads work, maize mills, leather tanning factory and beekeeping projects hence are now capable in supporting family live hood and participate in environmental conservation as an outcome of your unforgettable donation. This goes in line with the construction of classrooms of the teacher’s housing and two dormitories for girls and boys which were constructed respectively in Soit-Sambu Secondary School.

Elsewhere, around our Ward the donkeys that were the main means of transport for water up to this decade are sooner to be rested. The project of boreholes in Oloipiri Orkuyeine and Embaash sub-village in Sukenya village are at the stage where water was found and drilled. We are expecting to supply around 3,500 households in the coming months. I want to give testimony that water for human consumption is very scarce in our area and most women and children fetch water for home consumption far away from often polluted sources spreading waterborne diseases.

In order to secure these sources, we as a community, have unanimously agreed to form a special water committee that would be responsible of safeguarding the water sources. The committee has also come up with specific directives on how to manage the water sources. Since we understand the efforts and hard work done by the FoTZC Board, we want to make sure these projects are sustainably managed. Therefore, we have created a water fund that would be used for maintenance purposes. We are committed to ensure that no one would tamper with these water sources and they will be well maintained. Please rest assured that, we as a community are committed to make sure that all the projects are well maintained and most importantly safeguarded.

Our Ward has been a beneficiary of your support and we would like to continue being your partner in the efforts to improve the livelihood of our people and I want to assure your board that we in Oloipiri Ward will always defend, honour and respect our partnership. Once again thank you so much for your committed support and believing in our communities.

We hope that this partnership will last long not only for the bright future of our generations but also for the sustainable health of flora and fauna of our beautiful land. May God bless you in all your efforts to improve the livelihood of Tanzanian communities.

Sincerely Yours,

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William M. Alais
Oloipiri Ward Councilor"

No Longer a Dangerous Trek

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Imagine not having running water in your house. Now imagine living in an extremely remote place – you have few neighbors, a large family, and a lot of livestock – in an area prone to drought. Your husband and older sons are herding the livestock. Your younger children are in school. You and your older daughters who are not yet married have to build and repair the houses in the family compound, tend small crops, cook for the family, fetch firewood, and fetch water for cooking, drinking, and bathing. During times of drought, the nearest water source can take hours to get to on foot. If you’re lucky, you have a donkey to carry the water home for you. Now imagine some of the things that can happen to a woman walking for many hours in a remote area.

During these long treks for water, women are not simply losing time that they could use for other economic activities, they risk sexual assault along the way. During a long drought, families even take younger girls out of school to help fetch water. As FoTZC celebrates its 20th anniversary, we are focusing on providing clean water to communities like the one we describe here.  We have drilled three boreholes and are putting in solar pumps, allowing women access to clean water right in their communities, thus eliminating this dangerous, sometimes daily trek to fetch water. We plan to continue to drill boreholes in order to make clean water accessible for more and more women, enabling them to keep their daughters in school, to spend more time on starting small businesses through our COCOBA program, but most importantly, keeping them safe.
 

Water for a Healthy Life

FoTZC is so proud of the Sukenya Dispensary that we built and opened in 2015. Each month more than 500 members of the community receive care at this facility, but none of it would be possible without clean water. The dispensary would not be able to provide this care if the doctors and nurses were not able to sanitize their hands and instruments. Women who deliver in the dispensary need a hygienic area in order to minimize complications during and after childbirth. The borehole at the dispensary enables the staff to provide quality care, but it is so much more than that.

There are multiple long-term health outcomes associated with providing clean water in our partner communities. Four of the top ten illnesses treated at the dispensary are water-related: diarrhea, dysentery, eye infections, and typhoid fever.  The incidence of these diseases has been declining since the community started using the local borehole. Beyond the health outcomes, clean water will improve the life of local children. The less the children are absent from school due to water-borne illness, or because they need to collect water, the better educated they will be in the long run.

The list of benefits continues – the effect of water (or the lack thereof) stretches into every facet of life. Everyone needs clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Everyone deserves to have clean water to live a healthy life.