What do I miss most being here in The Gambia? Family, friends, people who speak my native tongue, rain, cold, electricity, internet, food, anonymity? No! I miss having a tap in my house more than anything else. I get all my water from a German made tank of a hand pump roughly two hundred and fifty metres from my hut. It’s a bitch. I mentally counted up the amount of taps in my father’s house in England. TEN! He lives on his own. Here we have two hand pumps for three hundred and fifty people. There is a constant queue which I try to join, yet despite my constant protests that I don’t want to skip the line, I am always shunted towards the front of the queue. This is due in part to annoying misplaced deference by the women, in part to kindness, for the people of Ker Sait Maram still treat me as a guest even though I have been here for nearly a year. I can’t deny how grateful I am sometimes for being able to skip the line. It’s hard to convey the annoyance of getting back to village from traveling somewhere, be it by bike or shared taxi, and discovering that you have forgotten to leave any water in the jerrycans in your hut. You are sweat soaked, dusty and disoriented from travel and know you have to stumble across the village to pump and then carry back twenty litres of tepid water to get a drink and wash your face.
Motivated by these difficulties and seeing how much time and energy is expended by the women of the village on water collection I am beginning the process of trying to get a solar powered water system installed in the village. I’m taking tentative first steps – researching other solar water projects, writing out grant proposals, holding meetings with the Alkalo (the village chief) and all the heads of compounds, measuring out various distances in the village and making a detailed map of the community, and unsuccessfully trying to get a quote from apparently the only company in The Gambia which deals in small scale solar water systems. Its May now and I fear I am being optimistic to hope for work to start in October.