We follow the same program steps in each village where we repair a broken hand pump.
First, family water supply is traditionally the responsibility of women, so when a pump on a deep well breaks down, women and children go back to their traditional sources which usually are not clean and can be the means of transmitting diseases (cholera, dysentery, etc) and parasites such as guinea worm.
Traditionally, visitors to a village meet with the chiefs and elders to explain why they have come. We use that first meeting to describe our program. We tell them that we will offer to repair or replace their broken pump and maintain it for 3 years, if they agree to arrange for their people to pay for water from the pump and save the money for future pump repairs. We explain that our purpose is help them to have clean water far into the future. If the leaders agree, we go on to the next step.
Next, we meet with the entire community to explain the program, including paying for water and saving.
As part of the government program under which the wells were drilled, the communities were required to form commitees to manage the water supply with no requirement for women to be included. A few young men were trained to maintain the pumps, but they were often gone when the pumps broke down. Also, the committees have seldom been effective and in many villages they exist in name only.
Our program requires that a gender-balanced committee be organized before we repair or replace a pump to ensure that women are included in the management of the water supply.
Next we provide instruction individual and community health and sanitation. We emphasize the importance of drinking clean water from deep wells particularly for the health of the younger children, because dysentery is a major hazard for them. Also, in keeping with a nationwide effort to encourage hand washing, we include that in our training as well.
Training a village water committee involves teaching the members the duties of the officers, how to conduct meetings and how to keep minutes. The committee then polls the community on how the people want to pay for water, and sets the rules for the hours of pump access, responsibility for keeping the pump area clean, and other matters. Then, REDEP assists the community to open a special bank account to hold the funds to be saved for pump repairs.
Finally, the pump is repaired and the water flows again.