Alpha 1: Water, water, water!

9th August 2017

Habib, one of our Alpha 1 venturers during Phase 1, tells us how his team came to understand just how important their WASH project is. The unreliable rainfall in the village of Pandan was becoming a huge problem, as access to water was becoming increasingly difficult. Alpha 1 were there to help improve the situation, working with the community to build better access to water in the future. Habib tells us how their experience opened their eyes and gave motivation to complete their project.

Habib says: “We were the first group of Raleigh venturers to work with the community of Pandan. When we arrived, they were relying solely on rain water, which was becoming increasingly unreliable. During our time with the community, we came to understand exactly how essential our work was going to be.

Habib at Alpha 1.

The increasingly unreliable rainfall – global warming being the main culprit – means it’s increasingly difficult to rely on rain water alone. Villagers have to resort to collecting water from the river, which is far away, takes hours out of their day, and is a physically difficult task. There’s also a high risk of contamination, as you don’t know what’s been happening upstream. Seeing this first hand made us realise how important easy access to safe water was.

Neilda (left) and Ale (right) interview James (centre) – the Head of the Village – and map the assets of the surrounding area.

We were excited to start to work with the community to improve the situation in the future, but first we set about understanding the villagers lives with baseline surveys and a detailed asset map of the area. Our efforts are going to help the villagers have better access to safe water for drinking and for washing. The two dams will catch and store natural water from streams, which will then travel through pipes into storage tanks which are much more convenient for the village. Once this water supply has been established, in Phase 2 and 3 the team will be building three toilets, spread around the village, to further help health and sanitation. These will use the water supply from the dams.

The importance of our Phase 1 project – to build two dams – was quickly highlighted when we started to run short on water due to the lack of rainfall. The remaining water was strictly for drinking, and the village kindly offered their church’s water tank to use as backup, which we were extremely grateful for.

Alpha 1 members Kevin (left) and Calum (right) speak to villagers about their current living situations.

Unfortunately for us venturers, showers were out of the question, so we embraced our almost unbearable body odours until one of our Host Country Venturers built a small dam near our house. It was made from clay from the river bed, and was clamped together to make a pool of water that we could now clean ourselves with – shout out to Kevin! This made a huge difference to team morale, and we could finally wash the worst of the dirt off.

Our experience at Pandan has shown us the importance of water, and how its accessibility has such a huge impact on people’s lives. By experiencing exactly the same conditions as the community, we understood why we were there and why it was so important to work with them to improve things.”


Words by Habib

Photos by Saoirse


Coming up at Raleigh Borneo: 

8-11 August: Project Visits

16-17 August: Changeover 2

18 August: Phase 3 Deployment Day

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