I Miss Talking To You On The Road – Can African Development Work Harm Relationships?

The social aspect of a community well.

“I miss talking to you on the road. I never see you anymore.”,  she said.

When many westerners are longing for a simpler life, closer to nature, our African development efforts often ignore what technology costs us… and them.

Is there a human cost to everything we do?  

Who determines if that trade off price is acceptable in a given community and context?

Locals do, of course!

Certainly, many people suffer from the need for clean water. Is how we get that purified water to them of any importance to them?

Here is a story to help us think….

“South African….Fourie Vanderberg tells about a leading a …..trip to the north of Namibia. The first thing his team noticed in the local Kraal (Village) in which they were staying was that the women had to walk every day to a well with a huge heavy bucket on their heads to fetch water.

“We immediately decided to do something about it.”

Within two weeks flashy new water pipes were delivering water to every little hut in the kraal.

Within a week after the installation of the plumbing, the villagers removed all the pipes and piled them politely on the outskirts of the Kraal.

When Fourie asked why they had plundered the plumbing and undone all their hard work, the Namibians explained that it is customary for women to walk to the well with other women sharing their experiences about life.

Carrying heavy buckets on the head while chatting with friends:

“It’s not a bad thing; it’s a good thing.”

When the walk to the well was taken away and life was made “never so good,” life was really made ever so difficult.”

(Sorry, do not have the source)

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