Mafi-Zongo Water Project
AMURT is currently looking for sponsors to help expand the clean water project. While local communities manage the project, AMURT will remain in situ until the communities are fully able to take over the programme.
Owned and managed by the local communities
Youth from the community dig in
Community organisers - Emperor, Kudjo and Alahadzi - coordinate community labour for the Zongo Water Project. They are supported by AMURT co-ordinators Brohim and Dada Daneshananda, and work closely with headmen, women and youth leaders, in 23 communities in Ghana’s Volta region.
The project is owned and managed by the communities themselves. Since September 2006, 9,000 people have been supplied with safe drinking water thanks to the work of local men and women who dug nearly 50 km of trenches for water pipes. This, together with another AMURT supported water project, has eliminated guinea worm disease in the area – a water-borne disease that often causes long term suffering and crippling side effects.
Women help to carry and lay pipes
AMURT‘s involvement in the North Tongu District in Ghana’s Volta Region started in 1990 in Mafi Dekpoe with an educational campaign to combat guinea worm, a widespread problem in the area at that time. However, it was soon realised that the best way to serve the communities would be to provide safe drinking water. The Mafi Dekpoe Water Project was born with the help of DANIDA (Danish Aid). By 1998 it was delivering clean water to ten surrounding communities.
The Mafi Zongo Water Project Takes Off
Emporer, one of the community leaders in the sky blue t-shirt, and his band of community workers
Meanwhile, Joseph Forkpe, the assembly man of Mafi Zongo, an area also badly affected by guinea worm, asked Dada Daneshananda to start up another similar project. This project took off when they secured a grant from UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) to build a dam. Financial support from AMURT branches in the US and Europe enabled the construction of a Water Treatment Plant.
The surrounding villages took great interest in the project from the outset. They formed committees of representatives, which organised communal labour and other aspects of project planning.
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How Does the Project Work?
Community workers at the treatment plant
Water travels from the dam to the treatment plant, where it is purified by a slow sand filter and pumped up to the top of Kpokope Mountain into a reservoir or ‘Water Tower’. From there it flows to the standpipes in the surrounding villages.
The Spirit of Communal Labour
Laying the pipes
At the end of 2002, the main organisers, Emperor and Kodjo, were faced with the great task of building a water tower at the top of a mountain. How would it be possible to get the heavy building materials there? Working hard to mobilise men and women from the local communities, coming together to carry fifteen truck loads of sand, six hundred bags of cement and hundreds of iron bars and planks of wood to the top of the mountain!
By 2005 the communities had also dug fifteen kilometres of trenches where Kodjo, Perry and Alahazi, three local partly trained, partly self-taught plumbers could lay the pipes. The regular distribution of water to the first ten communities started in September 2005, thereby completing hase One of the project.
Celebration as the buckets of water are filled with clean water
Thirteen New Communities Join the Project
Phase two started in January 2006 and involved 13 more communities that worked together to dig trenches, expanding the total pipe network to nearly 50 km! With the completion of phase two in September 2006, the project now supplies around 9000 people in 23 communities with safe drinking water.
Clean water gushing from the new standpipes
The communities take great pride in the Mafi Zongo Water project, which has completely eliminated guinea worm in the area. Their participation through organised communal labour and regular open meetings makes this large-scale project totally sustainable.
Phase 3 - Future Plans and Challenges
January 2006 saw an important new partnership between the Mafi Zongo Water Project, AMURT and Engineers Without Borders, who committed to three years of invaluable technical assistance to the project.
A further ten communities have recently approached AMURT coordinators, hoping to be included in the project. However, before we are able to expand we must deal with the following significant financial and technical challenges:
- to repair and raise the spillway of the dam in order to increase its water storage capacity during the rainy seasons
- to invest in a new roughing filter
- to improve all-round water quality
- to identify and repair the areas where pipes are leaking to avoid waste and secure environmental sustainability
The aim of the Mafi Zongo water project is to serve as a model for other community development projects in Africa and beyond.