In September two of our team travelled to The Gambia for the first steps in establishing a country-wide Safe Water project with the United Purpose Gambian team.
We visited rural communities within the west of the country to witness their daily struggle with collecting water and witness the true problems on the ground. When the community boreholes break, the communities rely on river and stream networks or open wells which are often far from the community and provide unsafe, unclean water.
In many cases we saw sophisticated solar systems had been installed for rural communities, however a lack of upkeep and maintenance of these systems has led to most breaking and the communities unable to fix them or afford a technician.
The number of broken boreholes was deeply concerning, with many having been cracked open to act as open wells for communities to fetch stagnant water from. In more than one case, the borehole had been broken for 7 years – and this included boreholes that served schools as well as villages.
Fetching water from open sources increase the risk of the water being contaminated from airborne sources, such as mosquitoes, as well as run off leading to contamination from pollution.
The burden on women is overbearing, with the daily responsibility of collecting water for their families growing more difficult with the lack of reliable, nearby sources. Many spend hours are spent in the blistering heat every day to collect the very minimum to satisfy their families, only for it to be from an unsafe source. So far over 160 broken boreholes have been identified country-wide, giving an indication of the scale of the problem in accessing safe water.
Our travels then took us eastwards to Mansa Konko, Soma for the Local Stakeholder Consultation. This meeting is an essential step within each of our projects, to ensure our projects are tailored to the specific needs of Gambian communities we will be working with.
Within this meeting we introduced CO2balance and United Purpose to key stakeholders and presented the projects design for feedback from the representatives from each district. The meeting was highly successful, with a great representation of male and female attendees. We received vital feedback from everyone and came together to find an inclusive and sustainable solution to tackle Gambia’s water security issues.
The next step is to prepare the project documents and submit them to our certification body The Gold Standard for the preliminary review and begin work on the ground for conducting the baseline studies.
We will keep you updated on our progress in The Gambia!