“As a young rural water engineer working for the Government of Tanzania around the time of independence, I went walking through the remoter parts of Biharamulo District. I came across an isolated hamlet where the only water supply was a muddy seepage hole used by animals and people alike.
Some women were crouched round the edge attempting to scoop the least murky water from the middle of the puddle with gourds tied to long sticks. They said the puddle was prone to dry up in the dry season and then the nearest water was a stream some hours walk away. After a discussion with what seemed to be the entire village they said they were keen to have a well and would feed and work with anybody who came to help them build one.
I sent my well-digging team and soon there was a concrete-lined well dug near the edge of the village, giving an ample yield of clean-looking water. There was rejoicing at the modest opening ceremony and after serious discussion about how to look after the well and keep the water unpolluted, the new rope and bucket were hung on the wall of the headman’s house nearby and we went on our way thinking another job well done.
Some weeks later I visited the village again and found the same women using the old waterhole; the well stood nearby, still full of clean water but apparently unused. The women agreed they did not use it. On being asked why, one replied, after a long silence, ‘Well, you gave the bucket and rope in the care of the headman’s wife, and we don’t like her…!’”
-Brian Little, United Kingdom
From Water Stories edited by Sascha Graaf