Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Work, Part Three

Here's a picture of some of my friends at the First Mennonite Church of San Francisco making a sand dam. Great job guys! You know, MCC is always recruiting...

Speaking of sand dams, I haven't written about work in a long time. Here's some info that my good friend Sara gave me. Sara is a genius. She is getting her phd at Stanford University, studying community involvement in water and sanitation in the developing world. She says:
In general, the four major principles contributing to sustainable development of water projects are as follows:

1) Communities should initiate the water project
2) Water users are given control over the type of project to be pursued
a. Wells, sand dams, public taps, private taps, etc.
3) Communities agree to invest something into construction
a. Labor
b. Money
4) After installation, administration of the system is supported by an external agency that regularly follows up on the project.

Ok, so here's what I've been wrestling with in my head for about three months now. We work here with MCC and CCM specifically on sand dams. We initiate the projects by rolling into a community with our Hilux and asking around (so strike number 1). Sand dams are kind of this fixed thing, and there is really only a few ways you can design them to be safe (strike number 2). So what we are left with, are points 3) and 4). And I don't even know for how long we will continue to do 4). It's just the nature of the project.

I can't help but wonder if we are doing something fundamentally wrong here. Don't get me wrong, the results in many of these dams we've built are amazing. People do grow gardens in the communities where we've worked where once was only desert. People do get water and food which last them well into the dry season. I just don't know.

Your brother,

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