Blog and photos by Lynne Dobson
Water To Thrive is working with International Lifeline Fund in Apac district, population of 340,000, just southeast of Lira, a city of 45,000, and this area was not heavily targeted by the LRA. But the district was surrounded by areas that were heavily invaded. Lira and the districts north east were the site of many refugee camps and people sought refuge on the streets of Lira and nearby villages off and on for decades. There is a lasting pall of empathy, sadness and unity among all Northern Ugandans, who survived a long unpredictable war.
We have traversed some 300 miles of dirt roads to the water projects around this large district of Apac to inspect 13 hand pump borehole well projects in the last four days implemented by our partner organization, International Lifeline Fund. I am a W2T board member with a deep passion for Uganda and I am shooting documentary photos of the beloved people we serve. We visited villages with Luo names : Acegi, Alam, Angolenyang, Olwer. Our team includes Linda Ryan, our videographer, Michael O’Keefe, our program director and Ryan Broersma, a loyal supporter and businessman from California. We’ve formed a small family on this journey with the leaders of ILF, Scott Patterson, their field program director and a geologist and Nicholas Mancus, ILF country director. Our translator and ILF sanitation trainer, Evaline Abu grew up near Lira. In our photos and in our hearts and prayers, we’ve gathered our new village friends along the way.
(Scott Patterson, ILF Program Director with Water Council in Olwer at an old water source)
International Lifeline Fund is Water To Thrive’s Ugandan implementing construction partner. The integrity of their staff, their operations processes and their relationships with the villages and district leaders is remarkable. They employ over 50 professional Ugandans, which is important for sustainable development in Africa. ILF involves locals at every level: from the geological surveys, the location of the wells, the borehole drilling, the hygiene training, the engagement of the village and district leaders and ultimately to each sacred individual who drinks the water.
This inclusion rightly makes the wells theirs, not ours. Ground up community involvement creates long-term trust, dignity and sustainability, which are core values of Water To Thrive. Scott Patterson explains that ILF has an ideal situation in Apac district because of local government support and skill, local expertise of the history of the region and Luo language, which creates a greater possibility for longevity of the borehole projects.
Part of their initial assessment is to see community pull. He says ILF won’t push a well on any village but looks and explores for a community to “pull them in”, to demonstrate engagement. And most villages follow through. Country director, Nicholas Mancus says they won’t force a well project on a community because it won’t sustain itself without their buy-in. He would like to scale up carefully with new equipment to work in many other districts and their immediate goal is to try to provide clean water to all people of Apac.