In June 2015, more than 400 Olmoti-area residents turned out with excitement to watch the water spurt from the Olmoti Clinic's new pipeline, bringing their first ever steady source of clean water. Singing, dancing and the ceremonial slaughter of goats marked the day that brought a river of smiles to the clinic.
With the new pipeline and Olmoti Clinic’s companion hygiene education project, health, hygiene and life are dramatically changing for this Maasai community.
A young warrior gratefully described how the water would liberate his mother. She had been leaving her small baby alone, crying, in their mud hut for a full day while she trudged for miles to fetch household water. The trek left her no time to make life better for herself and her children. Now, the youth said happily, that has changed.
The water project meets a dire need in northern Tanzania where clean water is scarce: Maasai children in this isolated region have suffered water-borne diseases after drinking from polluted open pit wells. Poor sanitation leads to trachoma, the major cause of blindness in Africa. Women trudged for miles uphill to fill water jugs, staggering back under the crippling weight.
Recognizing that illness and the hard work of gathering water impede education, health and economic advancement, the Olmoti Clinic raised money to pay an experienced contractor, reached out to Engineers Without Borders from Santa Barbara/Ventura, California, and involved the local community to address this most basic human need: fresh water.
The Maasai sold goats to raise money, and helped dig the pipeline trench. The Longido District provided both financial and technical support, and local and district officials have pledged to ensure sustainability of the pipeline.
Besides connecting the nearest water source to Olmoti Clinic, the pipeline has tap stands for the 1,500 Maasai living in the area. A new local water committee ensures management, repair and replacement of the system over time.
In a crucial related development, Olmoti Clinic is providing hygiene education to realize the promise of fresh water for a new culture of cleansing clothes and bodies, washing cooking tems, and cleansing wounds to ward off infection.
The Olmoti Clinic enlisted a top water educator, Rodgers Marandu of the Hai Water District. His program, developed for use in rural communities throughout the country, has had great success in spreading the importance of water and cleanliness. Using visual aids, he has presented educational sessions in Olmoti-Elerai area schools and in community sessions, reaching hundreds of people.