Karibu! Welcome!

Since 2004, EWB@ MSU's professional and student volunteers have worked with community members in Khwisero, Kenya to provide water and sanitation infrastructure at the district's 58 primary schools, making it easier for Khwisero's children to avoid waterborne disease and get an education.

In that time, the group has grown from a small club to one of MSU's premier student organizations, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund seven borehole wells, six composting latrines and a biogas latrine that serve thousands of community members.

Thank you for joining us as we continue to work hand-in-hand with local partners to make a difference in one small part of our world. As Western Kenya's limited internet access allows, we will update this blog while in-country with the successes, stories and lessons provided by our work.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Cow Analogy: Eric

Yesterday morning, we held our first meeting with the committee that will ultimately be responsible for the pipeline’s operation and maintenance. Perhaps our most important task this trip is to spend enough time working with the group to empower them, since it will ultimately be their management skills that make the project a success or failure.

Laying a foundation for community members from different schools and tribal divisions to work together to oversee the project may well prove to be the most challenging task we’ve undertaken in Khwisero. Fortunately, yesterday’s meeting was the best start we could have hoped for, I think.

In order to explain the need for community support for the pipeline, we’re attempting to use what we’re calling the “cow analogy,” where we explain that, like a cow, the pipeline will need to be taken care of by being maintained and ‘fed’ electricity for the pump if it’s going to provide water to the community.

We did our best to make clear that the committee must demonstrate to us that it’s capable of taking care of the project before we can justify spending the money to build it. We’re hoping to create a sense that the community must work to earn the project so that it has a stake in maintaining it in the years to come.

As best I can tell, we’re on track to make that happen. The committee was more receptive than we expected to a request that they organize the community to excavate trenching for the pipeline, and seemed to understand our concern over the need for buy-in.

A couple of people even repeated the cow analogy, which made my day.


1 comment:

Molly said...
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