A Permanent Cadre of
Local Water Technicians
Rainfall in Southern Africa began tapering off in late 1991; and by mid-1992, with no relief in sight, the drought had become the worst in the region's recorded history. At risk was an estimated 30 percent of the population. Hardest hit were Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In those countries, Africare mobilized what became the largest emergency water program in Southern Africa at that time. Africare built wells, pumps and water distribution systems and protected natural springs in 1,000 villages of the most affected districts, reaching 500,000 people. Mostly farmers and mostly very poor, those people gained the water they so desperately needed to grow food and thereby avert mass starvation.
The program had an even more important result. "Africare" did not directly build the water systems. Instead, we recruited several hundred local people, trained them as water systems technicians and deployed them to the villages to manage construction. Thus, Southern Africa gained, not only emergency water supplies, but also a more lasting resource: a permanent cadre of local water technicians, who maintain existing systems and who are in place to respond rapidly as future droughts occur.