Friday, September 9, 2011

The Bombwa

I live near two large cement water reservoirs on a little hill next to my town's market place. Its water is sourced from a local underground spring. Most of the time, the water table is high enough to provide water service twice a day for an hour at a time. There are no personal plumbing lines so like everyone else with a jerrican, I fetch my water from one of the 6 communal multi-fauceted structures strategically placed around town, called a 'bombwa'.

Life is good when water flows from the bombwa. Some days it doesn't flow though and when those unhappy days add up, it means going to a much less near water source, such as a creek or spring not connected to a bombwa. The last time I went out to fetch water from an alternative source was the first time I ever saw people arguing and fighting over water access. Nothing too serious occurred before the drama was resolved but the dearth at the bombwa that day did provide a glimpse at a vital yet fragile infrastructure keeping my community... quenched.

The photo above shows a bombwa near my house. You can see the bright yellow jerricans stacked and queued while children wait similarly nearby on what looks like a cement lawn armchair.

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