Notes to broadcasters
Water is a basic need everywhere in the world. In many African countries, there is plenty of water. But whether the water is safe is another question. Some communities travel long distances just to find water. In these cases, nobody bothers about its safety. Where water is easily available, then the community starts to talk about clean and safe water for domestic use.
It is the responsibility of communities to learn about water and sanitation for their safety, lest they spend most of their time in hospital beds nursing water-related diseases. Sometimes, people’s greed leads them to make illegal connections to the main pipes without understanding the damage and conflict this creates for the community.
In the following script, a community in Tanzania was able to access water with their own water system. A local government representative had helped the district’s water office introduce a Central Gravity Flow Scheme to help the community. The district government provided all the resources and expenses that were required to set up a scheme that stretched over 23 kilometres. Nobody could have foreseen that conflicts would arise. But people who wanted their own private, illegal connections went ahead and did so, with the knowledge of the service providers.
This script is a fictionalized story which is based on actual interviews with project beneficiaries and project staff. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
Jacob: Advocacy trainer
Cheburet: Scheme attendant
Community members 1 & 2
Clement: Sub-county official
Our story is set in the fictional community of Diwani, in Machinjoni District in southeastern Tanzania. Diwani enjoys a community water project, a Central Gravity Flow Scheme. The water project has worked well for some in the community, but there have been challenges.
Listener, today you will hear how corruption issues related to natural resources like water can cause unexpected problems. These kinds of problems often occur when the whole community is not involved in the initial stages of setting up a community initiative.
Listener, let us focus on the story of the Gravity Flow Scheme from southeastern Tanzania and how it has progressed since its inception in 2001. First, we will hear from two community members.
After a while, we realized that some water was missing. But we didn’t know why. So we reported it to the tap stand committee representatives, who are responsible for correcting the problem. We later found out that some rich people had made illegal connections. That is why there was water missing, and why we had to go the main source for water. The well that we had been using has dirty water because it was abandoned. So we had to travel a long way to get to the main source for clean water.
When the project started, I was trained by the district on general management of the scheme. I was present throughout the building and installation stage. After the scheme was in place, I was given keys to the water points, the main source, the inlets and all the outlets that serve the larger community. At first, my job was to work on the 71 tap stands and ensure that all the pipe problems were solved.
The first significant problem I experienced was in 2003, and then again in 2004. There was a lot of rain, and silting blocked the water inlets, so that little water was received by the community. Because the Central Gravity Flow Scheme Committee members are also users, they took the problem to the sub-county. They sent an expert and together we fixed the problem. This helped the situation, and then the community received water as usual.
When I heard this, I tried to find out why it was happening. I discovered that some people had installed taps in their homes and tapped the water illegally. This interfered with the normal flow. These were people who could afford to buy all the equipment that was required to install the water in their homes. These people called their own plumbers without the knowledge of the Gravity Flow Scheme Committee or the attendant.
You see, sometimes there is water rationing. But some people did not want to go without water even for a short time. With illegal connections, they have water even when it is rationed. Also, they kept animals that needed a lot of water. They wanted to ensure that they didn’t lack water for their animals and their many other uses. So they installed their taps at night. But the capacity of the system was only 71 taps. This meant that the system was overloaded. So some community members did not receive water, because it was redirected to these illegal taps.
Because I did not have the authority to interfere with the illegal connections, I reported this to the committee. The committee reported it to the district. But the government never took any action. Instead, they just said that these other people need water too. So I could not do anything about it. It was as if they were giving bribes to the district water people to do the illegal connections. That is why nobody talked about it.
You see, I am not paid for what I do. Considering the distance from which I travel to get to the main source, it is not easy for me to attend to all the problems. I get paid if I do repairs and then make a requisition to the sub-county. This may be once or twice in a month. I am never paid to clean up the water points or around the tanks or tap stands. But the community would not even consider cleaning up themselves around the water collection point. They believe that I am paid to do everything, even the cleaning.
Let us hear now from an intervener. Jacob works with Kajimbo Farm Training Centre. This organization trained the tap stands committee members to advocate for their right to access water. Let us hear how Jacob helped the community.
Because of these kinds of issues, the Kajimbo Farm Training Centre sensitized the community. The community chose a trusted person to present their position on radio talk shows that were facilitated by an organization called The Agents of Change. We believe that there are enough tap stands to serve the community if the scheme works according to plan. But some rich community members feel they should not have to queue for water like other community members. Other community members suffer from this. The government, we believe, had a hand in this situation. They never responded to these situations. And, after all, the scheme was installed for the community by the government. Currently, over 200 taps have been installed. But the illegal connections have interfered with the system so that, when there are no rains, the water must be rationed.
There is also a problem with rationing. In some areas, the people with illegal connections have installed water tanks that they fill when water is rationed. When this happens, some community members do not receive water at all. Instead of the water flowing to the community tap stands, it is diverted to fill these illegal tanks before it reaches the community. These kinds of conflicts arise to such an extent that some community members have threatened to break the Gravity Flow Scheme’s main tank so that everybody would suffer.
Listener, after a short musical break we will hear from a government representative. Clement works for the sub-county government through which the scheme was initiated.Musical break
After the scheme was handed over to the sub-county, we told the Gravity Flow Scheme Committee members that we thought there was a need for a guidance policy. The committee members shared this with the tap stand committees. And through these committees, they gathered different views on how the Central Gravity Flow Scheme could best be run. After collecting community ideas, the main committee drafted a policy in the local language.
The need for a guidance policy arose after concerns that there was some corruption in the earlier management structure. Some community members have heard rumours. They say that, because the scheme attendant is not from their community, he must be receiving money from rich people to help with illegal connections. The Central Gravity Flow Scheme Committee has also been accused of co-operating with the illegal connecters and receiving money from them not to cut off their connections. Before 2009, some in the community wondered whether the government was receiving bribes for these illegal connections.
To stop further problems, we now have a written policy that all those with illegal connections will be given water meters. In a few months from now, they will start paying a monthly fee, based on how much water they use.
For some time, the community has felt that they do not have a voice and that they are powerless to act on these illegal connections. This may have been true in the past. But the new policy clearly states the role of each person in the scheme. The community members know that they can penalize those who are cheating the scheme. The policy states that those who engage in negative practices will be taken to the police and charged.
The problem is that the tap stand committees and even the main committee are weak. The only solution is to change the leadership; then things will work out right. The community has chosen their own person, who they felt would serve them well as the scheme attendant. When the leadership changes, the committees will start collecting a little money every month from every water user. This will help pay the attendant. It will pay for repairs, and for general maintenance of the scheme, and even to buy gumboots for those who work with the water system.
These kinds of issues are common not only in this community, but in other districts too.
This scheme was a learning process for all. We have learned that, if the government wants to establish a project within a community, it should be done from the beginning in a participatory manner with community involvement.Musical break
This brings us to the end of our program today. Hoping that you learned something, this is (name of host). Thank you and bye.
Contributed by: Senior Writer Rachel Awuor, Ugunja Community Resource Centre, Kenya, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
Reviewed by: Erik Nielsen, Manager Country Based Programmes, Water Integrity Network and Alexandra Malmqvist, Assistant Communications Coordinator, Water Integrity Network.
Interviews with beneficiaries, council members, committee members, community development officer, journalist, and project coordinators, May 28, 2010.