Hey All, Came back into town today hoping I could get the chance to type up some of my results from village visits since I have been motoring through them as of late. To this point I have had discussions with 50 Water Point Committees (WPC) and my results and scattered all over the place. Some can raise a ton of money while others can’t raise any at all. In my Area there seems to be some added confusion because pumps are installed by 2 different organizations and the district that all preach different values. One organization for example implements pumps and asks the community to pay a 1000 Kwacha (k) fee per year for “membership”. What this entails is highly ambiguous as I have seen communities who have had repairs of over 5000 k all covered by this program, where as others maybe 1 km away have paid 2000 k plus this fee for a much smaller repair. So who decides these things, and why do some communities know how to use it while others don’t. I asked communities who have been paying this why exactly they do pay it and the result is the same pretty much everywhere. “Water is Life”….I have heard that line more than any other while being here and it’s really stuck to me because it’s so true and it’s pretty much why I’m here. These communities sometimes think that by not paying this, water may stop coming out of the pump. It’s a tough situation to see especially in the cases where communities have little to no money, and when they need a repair, they pay extra on top of this. So who is to blame in those cases? What can be done to change this? I have seen this system work great in the case where a pump broke and was repaired the very next day by this organization for no additional cost even though the repair could have cost over 5000 k. How come they had no additional charge here but they did down the road? Those are just some of the questions that have been floating around in my head over the past couple days and that only the story of maybe 10 pumps. The other 40 differ could differ entirely. This is why I wanted to take a day to some up my data in a format that more readable than some scribbles in my workbook.
I think one other thing I’ll throw out there right now is a story of a WP that I went to yesterday to sort of give the jest of what I try to extract from different villages, the questions vary from village to village but this should give a general idea. The pump was built in 2000, supplies water to 23 houses of which they collect 50k from each and every month. I asked these questions again in a different way to be sure I was getting the right information and they insisted, they collect 50 k/ house/month. From there I asked how many time the pump has broken before and they said 0, so they had spent 0 k on repairs. Okay good, so from there I asked how much money they had saved, they responded with 1500 k…….wait what? Let’s run the math here….50k/month/house*23houses*12months*10years = 138000 k…..so where exactly is the other 136500? I asked this question and was faced by defending answers now saying people don’t pay every month even though they said they did earlier. So then I got the minimum amount of people that pay each month, guaranteed, and they said 8….big change from 23 but let’s see where that gets us….48000 k. So where is the other 46500? They said they had maintenance for the concrete which cost a lot…how much is a lot? They said 5000 k….so where is the other 41500?…this process continued for about as long as I could take it without seeming pushy and got to 28000 k that was unaccounted for. Although these words may sound like I am being pushy and straight to the point serious, I try to do it in a somewhat playful/serious manner like having a conversation then asking these questions randomly or by beating around the bush to finally get to the point. It can take some time but at I have to do it that way because at the end of the day, I’m some student from Canada coming into their village asking them questions about their money….what right do I have? It’s a fine line to try and balance being friendly and getting results so you can increase the likelihood of honest answers. Most I have been to have been very welcoming and friendly, no community seems to stick out in my mind that hasn’t done so. You may think that this particular case of money issues was a rarity but let me assure you it isn’t. Though the scale may vary and this community had a lot of money unaccounted for, not one single community has been accurate with the amount of money they say they collect, spend, and have saved. They all require me to ask questions from different angles, in different orders and constantly adapt the way I approach the situation depending on the answers I am getting to start with.
That’s just one of the areas of questioning and that just one of the problems that come about in it. This is why I seriously need to look back at everything and hope it all makes sense a week after I had my first discussion.
I don’t exactly know what’s going to be happening in the next little while but I will try and keep you all posted, thanks for the support all.
Taluta (If that’s how you spell goodbye in Tonga)?