The villagers of Masaera have successfully completed seven canal projects in one day with oversight from the Valpo EWB team. Unfortunately, there were eight projects…The original plan called for EWB Valpo team members to inspect sites from the previous day, documenting potential improvements and maintenance along the route. What started as a basic leak restoration at the canal intake, or “the source” as its sometimes referred, turned into a canal nightmare for the villagers. As the water was expelled from this area in order to allow for construction, it slowly revealed a major canal breach that would take far more to fix than was available in terms of planned financial and human resources. The Valpo EWB team worked with the project leaders to consult on the best approach, and substantial strain was visible in terms of path forward by many different village members. Ultimately, it was determined that 2 new walls and floor were needed in a major new configuration for the canal. In addition, the concrete portion of the canal would need to be extended substantially to address the issue and prevent further damage.
Finding a solution
There were two major problems that had to be overcome in order to find a solution: Time and money (no surprise!). From a timing prospective, the villagers had been promised that the water would be turned back on in two days. This is significant because they had stocked water from the canal and, if they ran out, would have to cart it from the river which could be a steep hike of up to several kilometers. From a resource perspective, the village had plenty of willing volunteers to work on the canal, but there was no money set aside for this type of emergency situation. The Valpo EWB team in past years had suggested to village leaders and the water council that they set up such a fund, which could be used for ongoing maintenance and repair of the canal. On this front, the community rallied in the evening by having a large impromptu meeting to discuss the options for the future of the intake portion of the canal. Opinions were largely supportive of setting up an ongoing maintenance fund that would support large restoration projects as they happen. Additionally, it was presented that the village leaders would appeal to the government seeking to get disaster funding to support the intake project. With no water in the village, the village leaders decided to hold a village meeting in order to vote on whether to set up an ongoing maintenance fund for the canal. Additionally, the water council members present were able to determine that Friday evening would be the first available time villagers would see water running in the canal again. From a learning perspective, it was fantastic for the EWB Valpo team to be an observer to this process, watching the political dynamics play out in a different culture, identifying both similarities as well as major differences in approach. Day 3 highlight photos are below. More to come from Masaera!