Hagira slowly stands up as her friend, Atija, helps steady the brightly colored bucket they are trying to balance on Hagira’s head. Hagira then helps Atija situate her own bucket, full of murky water hauled from the nearby pit. The girls turn toward the rising sun, shielding their eyes as they begin the long walk home.
Hagira and Atija are 15 years old and have been making the journey to the pit for about a year. The pit is too dangerous for younger children, several of whom have died after falling in. The walk for water is hardest in the dry season, when the sun is at its most unforgiving and the presence of water in the pit is unpredictable. Hagira and Atija live in the Nampula province of Mozambique, where clean water infrastructure is rare but the need is great.
WaterAid and community leaders in Nampula are working together to develop a strategic infrastructure plan to improve access to clean water in the province. The hand pump wells that work well in smaller villages won’t work in Hagira’s home of Nacapa, a larger village with a basic health center and a school serving more than 530 students. The line at the community’s water pit is already very long. Many women leave their buckets along the well’s rim, to come back later, instead of waiting in the intense heat.
A mini-aqueduct system served by a large storage tank would better meet the village’s needs, but a system of this scale requires a reliable energy source to pump the water from the well into the tank. From there, gravity directs water through a system of pipes and to a series of water points throughout the community in homes, the school and the health center. But the village is almost 100 miles away from the electrical grid in the provincial capital and the closest source of diesel is more than 15 miles away.
After consulting with the community and local government, WaterAid proposed that the system harness one of Mozambique’s most abundant resources, the sun.
Hagira and Atija will no longer have to make the arduous journey to the water pit every morning and can now focus on their schooling. “I like the lessons at school,” says Hagira. “When I finish, I want to be a teacher and teach other children to read and write.”