Clear As Mud: Part II

Last week, we shared with you the first part of a powerful blog from Dave Umphress. Dave is a member of the Colorado Mozambique Team who recently went to Mozambique to visit the communities where the project will take place. In this section, Dave shares his first big lesson of the trip. --

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PART II: Clear As Mud

- Dave Umphress

If I had to summarize my biggest takeaway in one sentence, it would be this: we don’t have a water crisis; we have a people crisis (and I’m part of it).

I already had an idea that many American do-gooders were part of the problem. Six months ago, in a team meeting at my office, someone was pitching us their organization that, among other things, was addressing the “water crisis” in Central America. They pay someone here to make these filters (that are awkwardly plastered with “Made in USA” all over them). Water is funneled through the filter, and into a bucket – clean water! While a filter was being passed around the room so we could all see it, someone dropped it, shattering in to a million pieces (literally). I found that to be incredibly ironic. If this delicate filter belonged to someone relying on it in Central America, they would now drink dirty water while they wait for Americans to do their job; step up and send them another filter. They were only about $75 each; someone will pay for it! There are countless NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in America addressing the water crises all over the world, mostly by throwing an unbelievable amount of money at the crises to “just add water.”

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My first encounter with this reality in Mozambique was in the first community we visited. In 2009, a well-respected NGO visited this community and gifted them a well. For a community of 4,600+, one well is nowhere near enough to meet the entire need (100% water coverage would be one well per 300 people), but it was a great start. Unfortunately, though, as is true with an estimated 125,000+ other hand-pump wells in Africa, this well is nonoperational. It broke a few months prior, and the community had no plan to repair it. Why would they? Surely someone will come along to fix it, or dig them a new well. In the meantime, the community relied on some shallow, hand-dug wells with water that gave a new meaning to the term “clear as mud.”

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Be sure to check back next week to hear more about Dave's experience.