Clean Water

A watertank under construction

Day 17: Happiness in Kovki

I think you can judge by the title of this day's entry that by this point I'm pretty passionate about our work - Kovki has a functioning water management committee and an actual water supply, with pipes and taps, and even clean(ish) water coming out of them; and that's good enough to make me very happy! And that's not all: although we were only paying a flying visit to Kovki, the committee had arranged a meeting, open to all the village, to speak to us and tell us their concerns.

After a successful meeting, covering topics like water supply management and disease transmission - in a fairly in-depth fashion too - we walked round the village taking samples and - just as importantly - photographs. The photographs were not at all important from a work point of view, they were purely personal: Kovki has some of the most magical views I have ever seen. It is perched high on a ridge looking down into a lush, verdant green plain. (Here is a sample, but the photos really don't do it justice at all.)

Sadly, it seems that here in Cameroon every silver cloud has a lining of lead: walking back from Kovki, our route took us through Tanyah. We hadn't scheduled any time here, but discovering that their water supply - a fairly new one, installed recently - was completely out of action we felt compelled to stop. It appears that a 'local' landowner/farmer (actually, a retired army officer living in Douala) had tapped into the village supply upstream of the tank, in order to draw water for his cattle. Entirely by coincidence, the ruling party was holding an election rally in Lam, a nearby village. Guessing that the mayor might well be acquainted with said army officer - they both live in Douala, after all - I took the opportunity to suggest to the mayor that, were he to have a word with his friend regarding the water supply, he might be able to gain a few more votes. A forlorn hope perhaps, but it seemed better than simply removing the supply to the cattle, which would no doubt have been reinstated as soon as we left.

By the time we returned to Mbontsem (we weren't spending the night in Kovki), we were both pretty tired with all the walking and the events of the day. We spent the last of the daylight playing cards and watching the sunset over the valley. I'm not sure exactly why, but somehow the whole scene felt rather colonial, like we ought to have been working instead of sitting playing cards. However, I'm not sure how much more we could have done today, and anyway we need some time to relax during the month!

Day 18: Going to church

© Aidan Reilly 2013