Early start to visit Mavwali, a village where WaterAid has helped the community gain access to clean water and 100% sanitation coverage. Costa, our driver, skillfully avoids the rocks and pot holes on the unmade roads. In a month's time the rains will come covering the bridges. He says he crosses them from memory.
We arrive as the sun rises. It’s like a scene from a movie, except for the mobile masts. You can get a signal anywhere here, unlike clean water. Mavwali is one of the fortunate villages however. Angelina showed us with pride the pump which was surrounded by a wall with rocks cemented on top. “It’s to keep the children off” she explained, “and also the goats”.
“Before it was built we drank water out of the stream along with the pigs and goats. Sometimes the stream dried up and we had to dig shallow wells. We were often sick”.
A striking young woman called Charity was introduced as the Vice Chair of the water committee.”I am very proud of my village, it’s clean”. Cleanliness was a key refrain. The ability to wash clothes is of major importance. When you have so little, dignity matters.
Twenty minutes away is the Chiyoobola school where a class can contain upto 120 children. We were met by Rubin Mpundu, the school headmaster, dressed in a dark suit which wouldn’t have been out of place in the City. “Putting in latrines has made a huge difference to attendance” he said “before girls would stay at home one week a month, now they have separate latrines from the boys so they don’t skip school”.
“We tell them that cleanliness is next to godliness” he smiled “they now ask their parents for soap at home”.
£500 is needed to pay to construct a girl friendly ventilated pit latrine for 45 schoolgirls. When I returned to the hotel I checked the Christie’s catalogue: two cases of the Vintage Champagne lots should hopefully raise that.
Our last visit was to the Mission Hospital where there is one full time doctor for 200 patients. Berri Muchete, the Environmental Health Officer welcomed us. “One hundred of the two hundred patients admitted are here due to diarrhea and other dirty water diseases. We also have many AIDS patients and their immune system can not cope with the bacterial infections dirty water brings”.
He looked straight at me and said: “We need help, our people are suffering”.
A day of mixed emotions. Satisfaction when you see the huge improvements that WaterAid’s work has brought to these communities but massive frustration on knowing that less than half the population has access to improved sanitation.
How can a country have mobile masts everywhere but no clean water?
Christie’s Fine and Rare Wine Auction will be held on October 18 at
their sale location at 8 King Street, St. James’s, London. More
information and bidding assistance is available from Chris Munro at CMunro@christies.com +44 (0)20 7752 3140.
Written by Sarah Kemp