Fetching water now a boyhood memory

Mariano Guterres gets a lot of pleasure from seeing his nine children bathing and splashing in the clean water from a new tap installed near their home in the village of Bahamori.

It was different when he was a child. Now 40, Mariano grew up in the village and remembers fetching water from ponds and streams further down in the valley and hauling it back up home for his family.

Twelve years ago, the community built a series of bamboo pipes from a spring one-kilometre away in the hills below ‘Mundo Perdido’ or ‘Lost World’, the giant limestone mountain that dominates central Baucau district.

That system was a big improvement but the water was easily dirtied, especially in the rainy season, and the rough bamboo needed constant repair. Early in 2013 when Mariano and other villagers heard about World Vision helping other villages to get clean water supplies, they decided that Bahamori should get a new system too.

‘First, we got together and wrote a proposal which we gave to the head of our village,’ he says. ‘He gave it to World Vision and they came and talked to our community.’

Their initiative paid off and plans, technical surveys and assessments followed as World Vision set up an Australian Aid-funded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project. Training for the community began in September 2013, construction started soon after and, in December 2013, clean water began flowing from new taps installed on concrete pads located throughout the village.

Mariano is a farmer who cultivates vegetables including onions, mustard and cassava. He also works in the fertile rice paddies that curve around the slopes below Mundo Perdido.

His family shares a tap with five other households. Positioning the taps was a result of ‘big discussions but no fighting’, he laughs. Communal toilets have also been located around the village, with buckets full of water from the taps for hand washing.

The pipes and tanks have operated trouble free but at the end of the July this year the community met to discuss a maintenance plan. Mariano heads the GMF, the Grupo Manajamentu Fasilidade or Water User Group of 13 men and seven women charged with the system’s upkeep. The group asked each of the 17 households to contribute 50 cents per month.

Mariano was always confident of people's support and in September, contributions to a community-controlled bank account began. It's an investment that will mean his grand-children as well as his children will enjoy the fresh water now flowing in Bahamori.