It has been a tough 6 months working on getting the first INUMA GroundWater Solar Kiosk on the ground and selling water. I thought a nice blog might help understand what went down for the water to come up. :)
We had been working on getting the kiosk in a very underserved area of Rwanda from Feb up until June. Despite our numerous meetings and readiness to establish the kiosk, the local government didn't seem willing to help us work fast and efficiently. We almost gave up on kiosks, but a great person advised us that it would be best to try a new area as we would always face delays with this particular district.
We discovered Mageragere Sector, Nyarugenge District on Friday, 12th of June. Among other sites we surveyed, this site was the last one visited and did not leave a big impression at first. That is until Monday morning, when I went to see the Leader of the sector, and with him went on a small tour of places with severe need of water. My heart was changed!
I was of course sold when I saw the willingness of the local government to facilitate us in getting this solution to their people ASAP. We wanted a working site on the 20th as well. So we were a great match from the beginning.
I will not dwell in what delayed us for 5 months, but will just say that development is often blocked by leaders who don’t know the sufferings and needs of their populations. On the other hand, passionate leaders who understand their people’s needs make the best partners for PPPs. I don’t have the patience for the former, but the latter always becomes a valuable friend!
After 2 days of negotiating the terms of our agreement, it was signed and our team had the green light to start works. We enjoyed the great landscapes, while we noticed how much the need for water was strong in this community.
Even as we cleaned out the borehole, people lingered around for the chance that we might evacuate some dirty water (better than a 4-hour wait at the nearby spring). We saw water trucks coming in for the more affluent compounds. We just couldn’t imagine the amount of money and time being spent to access water in this area.
We pulled long days, often going home close to midnight and even working from home to get the kiosk ready and running.
When it started looking like a kiosk, we still saw mistakes. These were understandable for a first time around, but not to be kept since we wanted a perfect kiosk!
Of course the weekend didn’t offer rest. We worked all day and night Saturday and Sunday was Holy Sacrament so I walked for a few hours carrying a sign and was exhausted when I finally reached home.
We troubleshooted for the better of three days until water was flowing and we struggled to fill our 10 cubic meter tank.
While on site, we received many visits! from high ranking authorities curious to see a system come together in 5 days, to residents wanting to make sure this was here to remain and if they could finally get a private tap in their houses.
On the afternoon of Thursday 22nd we danced and had a small celebration as the first person took home a free jerrican as part of our opening promotion. Within 2 days the tank was empty. We added another full tank to the promotion and two days later it was empty again.
We started charging for the water two days ago, and it didn’t slow down. Even though, today is Liberation Day and a day-off for our kiosk attendant, I received many calls as to why we are not open (mental note to find subs for special days like these).