Jackie Perkins and Kate Bandler, New South Wales Regional Meeting.

Dabane Trust Water Workshops, Zimbabwe.

Olipa Ncube has worked as a member of the Bhejela Garden committee for the last three years, and feeds her family with what she grows. When she has surplus produce she is also able to generate extra income for school fees and other expenses. She, like many of the men and women Dabane Trust works with, lives in a rural resource-poor community and relies on subsistence agriculture for her livelihood in an area of arid land and limited water. Working together with these communities Dabane Trust is able to assist people through the provision of low cost well-points and hand pumps which draw water with great efficiency from seasonal river beds. The availability of clean water from a single hand pump can provide water for household use, and for half hectare gardens and livestock watering – the mainstay for the participant’s families and the wider community, ensuring a diversity of food and income year round.

As Dabane Trust identifies, ‘in arid and semi-arid areas of the world seasonal rivers flow for a few weeks, or just for a few days a year. While many of these rivers have become heavily silted, where there is a sufficient depth of sediment, large volumes of water may be retained throughout the extensive dry-season. As water is stored in the sand it is naturally clean and filtered. Traditionally people have dug deep wells into the river sediment to draw water, with wells protected from damage and fouling by brush fences.’ However, when the river is flows again, this brushwood and the fine silt carried in the river can clog this water source preventing future use. The unique hand pumps and well-points designed by Dabane Trust are an example of a simple technology that ensures people – in particular women, who are largely responsible for water management and use – are able to access water year round with no detrimental effect to the environment.

Hand pump in use by some members of the Bhejela Garden Community.

Alongside the ongoing refining of the hand pump and related technologies, Dabane has developed an impressive array of awareness raising and educational/training activities. Integrated across all their work is a mix of supportive activities targeting the well-being and economic development of those communities in which they work. QSA is currently funding Dabane Trust to develop a number of training DVDs in the areas of hand-pump operation and maintenance, health and hygiene promotion, gender and HIV/AIDS issues, leadership, business and environmental management, conservation agriculture, practical gardening, nutrition, cultural differences, vegetable and fruit processing and youth initiatives – which are anticipated to potentially reach an audience of over 20,000 households. As Dabane Trust says, it is intended that this be an ‘interest-grabbing, innovative and modern-day technique’ that allows for easy dissemination and access of key information by the communities it serves.

During this year QSA has had the opportunity to work collaboratively with a couple of other organisations, to the benefit of the communities concerned, but also to the benefit of QSA too. One was centred in Cambodia, working with APHEDA – Union Aid Abroad. The staff, based in Phnom Penh, has skills in training communities to farm fish in small ponds. QSA’s project partners, the Department of Women’s Affairs, wanted to learn how to farm fish, and had skills and expertise in teaching permaculture to generate food gardens within the communities. A useful exchange of skills was arranged and funded by QSA and APHEDA, and now the range of training topics that each organisation can provide has been expanded, to the benefit of all of the communities they work with. The Department of Women’s Affairs in Kampong Thom now have a fantastic demonstration fish pond in the previously unused land at the back of their office building, and the director, Sithol, is very proud of the achievements they have made.

Sithol, Project Manager in Kampong Thom proudly shows off the new fish pond outside the office.

More recently collaboration has happened in the Northern Territory, with ‘Habitat for Humanity’. They were approached by the Mapuru community in November 2010 to provide a shelter and storage shed adjacent to the airstrip so that the community had somewhere in the shade to wait for the plane to arrive, and somewhere secure to store the goods the plane brought for the community. This idea is one of many the Mapuru community had in mind, and meanwhile QSA was having email conversations with them to see what we could do to assist them. But this project provided more than simply a building for the community. Several of the young people in the community were given training in construction work, which is the way Habitat for Humanity works, as by getting a community to give some input into the actual construction, there is a stronger sense of ownership and caring for the finished building. And the prefabricated panels used were made by ‘Transforming Skills’ a component of Marrara Christian College, so yet more training opportunities were created.

Living Gifts catalogues – these have been issued now, in time for you to decide what ‘gifts’ to send to your family and friends for Christmas and throughout the year for birthdays and other special occasions. An attractive card will be mailed or emailed to you for you to send on to the recipient, and QSA will use the funds to continue its work in Cambodia, India, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Copies of the printed brochure are with your Meeting, and on the QSA website at http://www.qsa.org.au/Donate/LivingGifts/tabid/82/Default.aspx so don’t delay, use this brochure to support the work of QSA in a very real and practical way.

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