Tale of two wells

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I am re-posting this story written by Craig Stewart from The Warehouse, it really speaks a profound truth about ‘development’.

One for the road—- Tale of two wells

I recently had the privilege of visiting the Mwanza region of Tanzania to learn about a church mobilisation and transformation programme called Umoja which is being implemented in various parts of Tanzania and is proving very successful. It was an inspiring trip and one story I was told by Justin Nyamonga, the Tearfund Director for Tanzania, has stuck with me as a picture of transformation rather than simply charity.

It is the story of water wells being built in two communities. In one community a coalition of large multinational NGOs had partnered with a local Diocese to build wells in villages that clearly needed them. They had a sound strategic plan, strong staff and sufficient funds and could build the wells very effectively. The other community had been mobilised through their church with minimal external funding and had identified the need for a well themselves. They’d found the resources to build a simple well, it had taken time and hadn’t involved a bunch of well-educated outsiders.

A year after the wells were built both communities happened to be visited by the local Bishop. In the donor-funded village the well wasn’t working anymore as it had broken and been shutdown by the local representative. When asked why they hadn’t done anything to fix it, the answer amounted to “your well, your problem”. In the other village a local committee had been established to oversee the well and each person paid a small fee to draw water, which was then placed into a maintenance fund. “Our well, our problem.” Enough said.

– Craig Stewart, The Warehouse.

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