Water dominates life in Zeze. Everyone conserves the little they have as obtaining it is so difficult – carrying it long distances to your home, queuing at the pump… There is also the continual fear that another of the pumps will fail, making water even harder to obtain. These are constantly breaking down. When I visited in June only 5 were working, on my most recent visit in August, only 3 were working. There have been times when the whole village of 8000 people are down to 1 working pump.
Generally the problem is seals and bearings. The local fundis (handymen) appear to be resourceful and show initiative, even to the extent of trying to make local parts where possible. The water officials in Kasulu town 40 km away are less helpful, and frequently promise to help and visit but don’t. They don’t stock any spare parts in Kasulu and say they order them from India when necessary. One pump has been broken for over a year because pipes have broken off and fallen inside the well and there is no equipment to get them out.
So Benedicto and his friends decided to fix this hand pump with a solar one I bought on ebay, courtesy of a generous donor and brought out in my luggage. As the water is so deep (36m down) we had to run it at 24V on two car batteries. Getting these was a mission in itself. You can buy very little in Zeze itself so a
friend bought them in Kasulu and put them on a daladala (communal minibus) to drop them off at the junction 10km away where they were met by another
friend with a motorbike. Unfortunately when they arrived they were suspiciously light… because they were empty of the necessary acid, meaning we had to repeat the process the following day with bottles of acid..
We’d spent a long time negotiating with drivers in Kasulu to bring the 1000l plastic tank on their roof. The first one in the village, this was a great novelty. Benedicto tracked down the one man in Zeze with a saw and proceeded to make a wooden structure to put the tank on.
Getting the right seals to fix the pipes was another challenge. I’d brought out all the seals I thought we would need and we bought the only jubilee clips we could find in Kasulu, but in the end had to tie things together with old car tyre strips..
But finally, by torchlight, the pump, dry for over a year, started pumping water, to great cheers and excitement. The pump isn’t really powerful enough for this. It takes around 5 hours to fill the tank and it can’t keep up with the demand for water. The long term plan is to raise enough money to buy a heavy duty pump capable of filling the 1,000,000l tank that has been out of use since the 1970s..
But, for now, the villagers are saved a long walk to a working pump…