WATER: Sagam Village - proud of attaining the water Millennium Development Goal
Photos: Top- Visitors at one of the big water reservoirs in Rabuor. Lower- Children drawing tapped water from at one of the kiosks in the village.
In September 2005, world leaders will congregate at the UN headquarters in New York to assess global progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an inordinately expensive annual event. Kofi Annan will solemnly tell them the obvious: That 5 years later, progress has been painfully slow; the promised resources were not released by the rich world; the poor are getting poorer and the rich-poor inequities are growing, even in supposedly improving economies of India and China. Africa will be a black spot over which fingers will be pointed all over.
Missing in this jamboree of world leaders will be the makers of miracles that are happening quietly in villages like Sagam where the water MDG has been attained. The water MDG is to 'Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015'. Until recently less than 2% of the villagers had access to safe water. Today, over 90% of the villagers in Rabuor-Sinaga area have acess to sustainable safe drinking water; and the figure is growing.
It is unfortunate that the 'do-it-ourself' Sagams of the developing world will not be heard of in New York. They lack powerful sponsors who can loudly and articulately proclaim responsibility for their success. Does anyone want to hear of indigenous, home grown success when the big game in town will be patronage from big-brother?
But, happily, the people of Sagam will be oblivious to the charade in New York and will be enjoying cool, clean spring water, harnessed from the belly of mother earth, stored in tanks and flowing freely through pipes they planted into the ground with bare hands; gushing out, uninterrupted, through the taps in water kiosks distributed all over the village.
What is the secret of their success? It is leadership - local leadership, participatory planning and determination.
The Rabour-Sinaga area water project was a mere dream. But, thanks to visionary leadership of Rabuor Sinaga Area Development Trust (RSA-DT), the first water committee chairperson, Mama Mary Asiko, and her team, it is now a reality. The current committee, chaired by Mrs Jane Rogo is continuing the tradition of excellence. The villagers' thirst has been quenched. And, proud of this achievement, will be reading the familiar pledges from the September UN summit in New York, aware of what it takes to translate the rhetoric into action at the village level.