AS a kid, it was my mandated task to ensure that we had water in the house at all time.
So every day, every afternoon, I made sure the two containers in the house were kept filled, I task I continued until I left to go to study Grade 11 outside the province.
The water collection was a 20-minute chore and I loved it. It was a noble task for me as I did not want my mother to look for water after a hard day at the garden.
I grew up without clean water. I replaced the water each day and we never had stale water.
I had three sources to choose from. The best and tastiest meant a waddle along a calf-deep mud path. The spring (Paketo) seeped through yellow mud (pake).
I must admit we children collected water there with some reluctance as the mud path was 100 meters long. But I made sure the mud never once got into any of the containers I carried.
The next best water seeped through the grey-black guie mud. It however came with a lot of silt and we tried ingenuous ways to minimise this including using leaves or ferns as filters.
The taste of this water kept fresh even after three days, even longer if a fern was placed in it.
My mum preferred this filtered water to the water from Paketo. This biggest spring did not have the best taste and this was where every other child went to fetch water.
But it was my last preference; only if something happened to my guie spring.
So our issue in the villages was not that we lacked clean water; we just needed to bring it to the village and let it run in the village. But an open connecting drain was going to be contaminated by all manner of things including pigs digging it up. We raised pigs by free-ranging them.
If the water was to be piped, the next problem was for it to have pressure through a gravity-induced flow. Unfortunately my sources were either level or below the village, so that was the end of that piped running water idea.
Water could potentially be piped from the mountains three kilometers away through several other villages. But my village did not have bilateral links with the owners of the mountain springs.
No interaction despite sharing the same language and limited contact on the sports field and occasional drunken brawls after a village dance.
When that happens, things can turn dicey. They can cut of the water after the simplest of conflicts. Not only at the source but at every village the pipe has to pass in order to get to my village.
Unfortunately at this time in the mountains, regard for public infrastructure is way down the list. So my village still fetches its water from Paketo and Nosa Gopato and my grandchildren are going to have their turns at hauling those 20 litre containers from these same sources.
If WaterAid wants to assist to bring water to villages, we need assistance to bring water from these three springs to the village. How do we provide gravitational feed from any one of these springs?
WaterAid need not worry about the ATS community in Port Moresby. Communities in the city play around with too much money. They can afford to pool together to assist themselves in a jiffy. The dependence on too much government or MPs handouts is killing community spirit.
Getting a 64% rating for non-access to clean water is an urban community problem, though we villagers do want clean non-disruptive running piped water in our village to stop us from wading through thick mud.
Rural communities don't have the ability to pool money together in a jiffy. They do grow a lot of food but this is for subsistence and mostly cannot be easily exchanged for money.
It is in such areas that WaterAid should concentrate their efforts where each village has its own unique situation. One type solution does not fit all problems.
There you are, WaterAid. There’s a project for you.