For the community of Gwembe in Zambia, a reliable source of clean water provides the cornerstone upon which all of this flourishing community's transformation rests.
See what life used to be like for Veronica and her family and neighbors, and how far they've come today.
I’ve known for years that when water flows into a community it can lead to transformation, but I’ve never seen this more clearly than during my visit to the community of Gwembe in Zambia.
I spend the day with Veronica Hachikondo and her family. Veronica explains to me that her community used to be deep in extreme poverty. There wasn’t a nearby reliable clean water source and people, particularly the children, suffered from illness. People in this area rely on farming for their income, and the lack of sufficient water also made farming difficult. It was so bad that during some years there wasn’t enough food. Sadly, Veronica lost a child to malnutrition before there was a good source of clean water.
The nearest water source is a spring up in the hills above Gwembe. On the walk up to the spring, Veronica explains to me that, in the past, there were long waits for the water because the entire community had to collect water from the single spring. And, because they shared the water with the cattle and other livestock, it was highly contaminated. She tells me that bathing for her was nearly impossible since there was no privacy near the spring.
Sebastian Kunde, World Vision Zambia’s director of water, sanitation, and hygiene, shows me how World Vision staff protected this spring and installed large water collection tanks. The community then helped lay piping so that water flows down the hill into the community where it’s available for drinking, gardening, bathing, and the livestock. This gravity-fed spring catchment provides a reliable, clean, and safe drinking water source for the entire community.
Veronica uses the water for her garden that consists of tomatoes, cabbage, guava, kale, and corn. Cabbage and tomatoes require a lot of water and they bring a good price at the local market. We’re visiting just at the end of the dry season when malnutrition used to be at it’s peak, but the children now are healthy and clean because of the water and gardens.
Veronica is proud that her son Owen is going to secondary school. Owen is the first of her seven children to go to secondary school because she previously couldn’t afford the books and fees. We meet Owen after he finishes his shower and puts on a clean white shirt. He tells us that today is the day he’s going to buy his books, and he couldn’t be happier.
It’s easy to see that this community is flourishing and that the foundation for this change is easy access to water. Clean water flowing downhill from the spring has stopped the illness and death that used to grip this community, and instead the kids are now healthy. The gardens are lush and provide cash for Veronica and her neighbors when the vegetables are harvested and sold in the market. The kids are able to go to school because they’re not collecting water and their parents can afford to pay the school fees. Veronica, like many people here, has used some of the cash generated from her garden to purchase pigs and cattle that have significantly increased her wealth. With this increased wealth, she purchases fertilizer to make her garden even more productive, leading to a virtual cycle creating even more wealth.
Veronica shucks some of her corn to get it ready to take it to the local mill. As she shucks, Veronica breaks out in song and Florence Mulenga, our local World Vision staff, translates for me: “The work that we’re doing is great. You get to heaven doing this work.” I smile and think that given the catalyst of clean water, Veronica has worked hard to create a much better future for her family. It’s a blessing to see her and her family so fulfilled.
Step by step, poverty is leaving Gwembe and people’s lives are being transformed. It’s all part of World Vision’s work with communities to end extreme poverty within our lifetimes. Thank you to our donors and partners that are helping Veronica and millions of people like her.
(Photos by Jon Warren/World Vision)
Today, our clean water, sanitation, and hygiene programs bring clean water to a new person every 30 seconds, but by 2020 we aim to triple that: a new person every 10 seconds! Join us in this ambitious goal and help bring clean water to the world.