Most of you are aware of the work DLDT does in Uganda to get people access to safe water. However, what makes DLDT different from other organizations that do similar work in the region? First, let’s do a quick reminder about the issues Uganda faces.
Recapping the reality of Uganda
With a population of close to 38 million, 8.5 million (or 22%) lack access to safe water for drinking and cooking. 31.5 million (or 83%) lack access to modern or “normal” sanitation facilities. Over 4,000 children die every year from dehydration. Two-thirds of the population survives on less than $3.10 per day (source).
If you give a dollar to a homeless person, what kind of impact will that dollar have? In the short-term, perhaps the person will use it to get a meal or a beverage today, but tomorrow that person will likely be in the exact same situation. We are not saying that giving that dollar is a bad thing to do, but it is a temporary fix – a bandaid – to a much bigger issue. That person likely needs a lot more help, ranging anywhere from assistance with getting a job or education to mental health counseling. In Uganda, getting people access to safe water works the same way. We can temporarily bring water to people via many methods, but if we do not create a comprehensive long-term plan, those people are going to soon find themselves back in the same situation.
Come in and know me better, man
Trust. For many of us who are fortunate enough to have had mostly positive relationships in our lives, trust in others can develop fairly quickly. However, for others, those that have been mistreated, misused, or betrayed, trust in others comes slowly. A wall keeping others out has been built and only an investment in time can break through that wall. On average, Drink Local. Drink Tap. spends one to two years with a Ugandan community, building a relationship, before any plans start being drawn or implemented. A bond with the people is what lays the foundation for success of the projects we take on.
I won’t let you down
With trust and relationship building comes accountability. It is much easier on the conscious to disappoint a perfect stranger than a close friend – it’s just human nature. As Drink Local. Drink Tap. forms relationships with the people in the communities we work with in Uganda, both sides feel a desire to not disappoint each other and therefore feel accountable to do what they said they were going to do. The investment in human relationships drives the sustainability in the projects.
80% of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) projects installed in Africa fail within the first two years. This is often due to a lack of maintenance and follow up, too many organizations swoop into a community with good intentions and motivation, but with no long-term plan of how to support a project. Drink Local. Drink Tap., with the help of a dedicated Ugandan DLDT staff, monitors all completed projects for at least five years. To date, all eighteen major projects DLDT has completed are properly functioning.
Learn to fish
Finally, and probably most challenging, what makes Drink Local. Drink Tap. different is our investment in trying to change the behavior of the people we work with. When you are not used to having something, you may not know how to value it once you do have it. When you have not had access to safe water or proper sanitation most of your life, you may not know how to care for and maintain it once you do. DLDT works very hard to educate communities on how to value and take care of the new resources they have. From reminding them to regularly clean their jerrycans (water containers), to not having their animals go to the bathroom near the drinking water, it is a tremendous change in behavior and mentality. This not only improves the longevity of the project, but also improves the lives of the people themselves.
If you haven’t already, watch our documentary, Making Waves, and observe what makes Drink Local. Drink Tap. different.