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03/25/2010

Community’s Real Strength

One of JEN’s principles is “assistance to assist, not assistance to provide”. What is important in order to realize this principle is the ‘process’ by which we communicate with the local people. Today, we would like to share with you an episode from last December during reparation of agro wells.

Reparation of wells is one of the most prioritized issues in the water hygiene sector of South Sudan. In particular, it is of utmost importance for the communities themselves to learn and acquire the skills to repair the agro wells themselves.

The community that JEN was assisting in building schools originally had 4 wells, of which 3 were already broken. JEN had a meeting with the people from the community about these broken wells. It seems that the community had somewhat expected that JEN would repair the wells for them.

However, JEN’s mission is not only to assist people, but to ensure that they can learn to look after themselves in a sustainable way. JEN asked the community how they intended to cover the cost of the necessary reparations. This was something that they had not thought about. In appreciation of JEN they managed to raise enough money for half of the cost, so JEN provided the balance. Even though this was a new attempt for the people, they bought the idea.

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It is this decision, “we can repair the wells ourselves, in fact it is us who has the responsibility in repairing our wells” that marks self-reliance. It is not the details- taking on half of the expenses etc- but it is the fact that they can deal with the problem independently.

So following the successful reparation of the boreholes, the whole community had a big meeting and decided to start a borehole management fund. From now on, the community members will contribute a small amount of money every week to the treasurer who will keep it for use in case where maintenance is required.

March 25, 2010 in South Sudan |