Training with a Purpose

Background

Walking with a Purpose has scouted many communities to find opportunities for partnerships. At the core of our beliefs is empowering communities and individuals within each community we work in. As we visited many communities around the Granada and Rivas area, we found one common problem affecting many communities: access to clean drinking water. Lack of financial stability has made it difficult to maintaining these water points. The water points found in these communities are Afridev hand pumps. Because these pumps haven't been maintained, many of them are starting to break.

The first water points in these areas were installed approximately 6 years ago. Since the date they were installed, they have not been given scheduled maintenance they require. There are over 30 wells in the Granada region alone and nearly half of them are ready to be maintained or repaired.

An Afridev hand pump can go for about a year without any maintenance or repair on average but, of course, there are exceptions to these rules. After about a year parts start to wear down (especially the rubber seals that bring the water up) and the more time they go without repair the less water they will yield. According to the manufacturer, wells should be inspected every three months for scheduled maintenance, thus avoiding bigger and more expenses repairs.

These communities have not been trained, don't have the right tools, and do not have a supply chain for parts, they have no choice but to call independent contractors. The contractors are charging between one hundred and two hundred US dollars ($100-$200) to change rubber seals and chlorinate wells. These prices are well beyond the means of the community, and as a result, we have found wells that have been broken for 8 months or more. Rural communities where these wells are located survive on agricultural labor, where a typical salary for a field worker can vary from one to two dollars a day ($1-$2).

We have learned that these private contractors are not just providing a service, they are also impoverishing communities and creating dependency. Funds that could be invested in other areas are being spent on water and the wells have gone from a blessing to a burden on families. They don't have any other option, so they're forced to pay exorbitant prices to keep their water wells in working condition.

Walking with a Purpose believes that the only long-term sustainable solution is to create water committees, train committees on how to run and manage their water well, equip them with the necessary tools, train them on how to repair and maintain their wells, and connect them with a supply chain so that they can access the parts they need and ensure that the pumps are always in good working condition.

Objectives

  • Teach communities basic business skills (water committees)
  • Establishing and collecting monthly fee
  • Managing of funds (expenses)
  • Accountability to water committee and community (handling of funds)
  • Train communities on well parts, repairs, and maintenance
  • Establish a supply chain of parts from supplier to communities

Scope

Community empowerment refers to the process of enabling communities to increase control over their lives. “Communities” are groups of people that may or may not be spatially connected, but who share common interests, concerns or identities. These communities could be local, national, or international, with specific or broad interests. ‘Empowerment' refers to the process by which people gain control over the factors and decisions that shape their lives. It is the process by which they increase their assets and attributes and build capacities to gain access, partners, networks and/or a voice, in order to gain control. “Enabling” implies that people cannot be empowered by others; but that they can only truly empower themselves by acquiring more of power's different forms . It assumes that people are their own assets, and the role of the external agent is to catalyze, facilitate, and assist the community in acquiring power.

Community empowerment, therefore, is more than the involvement, participation, or engagement of communities. It implies community ownership and action explicitly aimed at social and political change. Community empowerment is a process of re-negotiating power in order to gain more control. It recognizes that if some people are going to be empowered, then others will be sharing their existing power and giving some of it up. Power is a central concept in community empowerment and health promotion invariably operates within the arena of a power struggle.

Community empowerment necessarily addresses the social, cultural, political, and economic determinants that underpin health, and seeks to build partnerships with other sectors in finding solutions.

Through our cluster pump training program, we would empower communities to break free from private contractors charging far too much money and putting an unmangeable burden on these communities. We believe as an organization that people have the potential through training and education to find solutions for their communities, we strongly believe that we have an opportunity to empower rather than not create dependency.

Please contact Jorge@our-purpose.org if you are interested in supporting a community developing with these NEW Cluster Trainings!