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World Bank, Water….

October 23, 2011

La Chica returned to Tanzania on a mission – to get the water project underway in Longido village.  Having sweated and worked extremely hard with her Testigo Africa committee members and volunteers to raise money from calendar sales, talks and a number of fundraising events, and securing a last minute grant from David Morawetz, she was returning with funding!  After showing her brother (Peter) Longido and other places in Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda (Peter and his company HSD are a major sponsor of Testigo Africa and its water projects) she took up residence in her mud hut in Longido to assess the latest water situation – not good.  Residents are now required to pay for water – from 1000 to 1500 Tanzanian shillings for a 20 litre bucket (this translates to around A$0.60 to A$1) – perhaps not a huge sum for foreigners, but typically the daily income for a Masai family, resulting in many families having to make a daily choice between having water or having food.  The water of course needs to be carried – often up to 10kms – so mothers and young girls are often absent from their bomas and schools.

However some good news greeted La Chica – in her absence the World Bank had financed the drilling of boreholes in Longido district.  Of 13 holes drilled, six had hit water; one of these was a borehole in Altapesi, the sub-village that La Chica had promised to help.  The World Bank funding had only provided for the holes to be drilled, not to pump the water, so funding was still required to actually access the water for the drought affected population.  La Chica met with the Longido water department, the Longido district council, the chairmen of Longido village and its five subvillages including Altapesi, trying to get information about the borehole.  Many frustrating meetings later, she called in the troops!  She engaged the help of her Masai friends Daniel and Emanuel – Masai from different regions of Tanzania who not only spoke Masai and Swahili but also spoke excellent English – a huge asset in trying to move ahead.  The water department continued to promise copies of the World Bank completion reports and pump tests for the Longido boreholes, but never delivered, despite many requests and many more face-to-face meetings.

Fast forwarding through some very frustrating weeks – La Chica was told that the Longido water department was currently closed!  Fast forwarding further – La Chica has secured the services of Maji Tech, an American owned and managed drilling company that has previously installed an Aussie style windmill in Longido village.  Maji Tech are going to carry out pump tests for the Altapesi borehole, as it seems the World Bank contractor didn’t undertake the tests and seems to have left the hole partially done and run off with the money.  Headlines in the newspapers in Tanzania often cover corruption issues – espousing that corruption is crippling the country and giving examples of the extent of corruption (there is even a government department charged with dealing with corruption) – it seems La Chica has now witnessed it firsthand, but thankfully she held off with any financial dealings.  The poor victims are of course the Altapesi and Longido residents – particularly the women and children who are in a daily struggle to survive, and the Masai men and boys trying to keep their remaining livestock alive through the worst droughts in Tanzania’s history.  La Chica is now confident that through Maji Tech the water project will be completed, and is excited that their work with Testigo Africa has commenced.   Here is a photo of La Chica standing on the capped borehole in Altapesi – running water here we come!

Altapesi Borehole!

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