By Cornelius Stiefenhofer, intern at Intelligentsia International, Inc.
May 20, 2009
driver says a short prayer before we start our journey. We leave
get off the car shortly before entering Dahana
village to overview the settlement from one of the surrounding hills. With more
than 500 households, it is the largest conglomeration in a valley not far from
the district’s capital. As we descend, many children follow us on the unpaved,
washed out streets to the village square.
Dahana is growing fast due to
previously attempted projects to supply the village with drinking water failed,
caused by poor engineering support, difficult technical conditions, and
incomprehensive project management. Finally, after several years and attempts,
citizens applied at the newly founded Rotary Club Dushanbe. Funds were granted
for the implementation of a new water system in Dahana,
and the educational organization Intelligentsia International Inc. was assigned
to provide management and engineering expertise for the project. Intelligentsia
International Inc. is specialized in research and internship programs for water
management in developing countries; based in
Intelligentsia International implemented a simple, robust system design that villagers are able to maintain. Local products, supplies and workforce were used wherever possible to strengthen local economy. The long-term results one year after implementation are very satisfying; fourteen taps distribute clean water within the village, the distribution pipe network was carved properly by villagers and resisted the winter. Intelligentsia stayed flexible on the project scope in order to optimize water distribution; additional trenches were installed to reach newly evolved residential areas, as well as several small villages in immediate neighborhood to Dahana. Today, the system is maintained by one villager who runs the pump three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening. He collects the fees necessary to run and repair the system and coordinates maintenance and repairs.
One reason why we traveled to Dahana was to get feedback from the villagers about implementation and ongoing operation of the water service. Overall, villagers are very content with the installation but struggle with a weak community as some fellow citizens, beneficiaries of the water supply, do not pay the small fee necessary to run and maintain the system. They tell us that it is less a problem of poverty; also rich people refuse to pay for the new public service. And they tell us about a recent break down of the pump. Paying for the repair was only possible thanks to a few villagers who shared costs.
the villagers improved their situation significantly. They consume clean and
drinkable water in proximity to their homes which improved overall hygiene and
sanitation standards. A decrease in cases of water-borne diseases, and maternal
and child mortality rates is an important, positive development as medical care
is very limited in rural
The region still faces problems with water supply. Villagers report water shortages for irrigation and cattle during summer. They blame villages living higher in the mountains to consume too much of the salty, not drinkable water for agriculture. We are also told about villages around Dahana that have not yet access to potable water. These people from smaller localities have to take long distances with their donkeys to reach the water source in Dahana. The community of Dahana solved difficult problems in their village. Nonetheless, the village has still along way to go. One example is the newly erected medical practice which has no access to water. Even worse, no sanitary installation was set up at a place where hygiene decides about life and death.
of Dahana village would not have been possible
without The Rotary Foundation and the Rotary Clubs of LaBelle,
Harbor Heights/Peace River, Murdock, Venice-Nokomis, Seminole, Lehigh Acres,