Three cycles of volunteers working in the same community teamed up to raise money and help repair a community well, enabling up to 500 local residents access clean water.
Bernice is a young woman from Owuram in Ghana. After her community well broke down, she had to walk 2km every day in order to fetch safe water.
A small community in the Eastern Region of the country, around 1,800 people live in Owuram. It is one of three communities selected to host ICS volunteers working to support local livelihoods.
Improve the lives of 500
“The well had been broken for a very long time,” Bernice explained. “We used to spend a lot of time and energy just looking for water to cater for our household.”
The first group of VSO ICS volunteers to stay in the community carried out research and concluded that if they were able to repair the well, then it had the potential to serve over 500 people in Owuram with clean water.
There was a real understanding of the importance of the issue among the team, as several of the volunteers lived in host homes which were affected by the broken borehole. Seeing their host families have to travel long distances to fetch the water underlined the impact on their lives.
Passing the baton between teams
An initial assessment by an engineer from the local government valued the necessary repairs at GH₵4200.00 (roughly £860).
The volunteers began by lobbying the local government to repair the borehole but they were told that there were no funds available to repair it.
So they made the decision to raise funds of their own. When their placement was completed, the baton was then taken up by the next cycle of ICS volunteers to arrive. Both groups worked hard to organise a series of fundraising exercises.
Once they had raised a significant amount, an independent contractor was contacted, who was able to repair the borehole at a much lower cost. The volunteers of the third cycle then worked alongside the community to repair the well.
‘Just a few steps to clean water’
The Chief of Owuram, Nana Baffour Safo Kantanka commented, “I have seen the contribution of these volunteers in the community since the first cycle to see the fixing of this borehole, indeed they deserve applause and the community is grateful for everything.”
Madam Asabea Comfort, Bernice’s mother, said that while the well was broken, she struggled with the journey to get water: “This repair of the well is now a huge relief for me as I can just walk a few steps to fetch clean water which my family and I can drink and use for everything in the house.”
Kaya Brown is one of the UK volunteers currently living in the community. “Clean water for the community members means less disease, and people now don’t have to walk long distances to fetch water,” she said.
“I fetch water here myself since it was fixed and I can see the water is very clean and it tastes good. I’m happy to be part of the group who helped fix this borehole.
"Aside the many other things we are doing to improve the lives of people in this community, I’m very excited that I was a part of it.”
To find out more about the work of VSO ICS, including access to clean water in Ghana, click here.