Rain is Bo: The Importance of Wells

Why water matters, and why you should care.

It was afternoon, in the heat of a mid-February day. Christine, a volunteer whose children attended Munyawiri Primary, had led me into a field near the school to fetch water for our newly-planted garden. She made a small exclamation and pointed into a copse of trees which had held a pool the day before. Today it was dry. We slid through the high grass in search of somewhere new and were rewarded: a shallow pool lay not far off, aswim with tiny stick bugs and tadpoles.

As we filled our five-gallon buckets and turned to leave, it began to rain heavily, and I started trotting across the field with all the grace of a newborn giraffe, bucket slopping left and right.

Not so for Christine. She tilted her head back and laughed uproariously, shouting,“Rain is bo (good)! Rain is bo!” And I learned to slow down and enjoy it, too.

But to people in Zimbabwe, rain is “bo” not only for its wild aesthetic beauty. Rain is “bo” because every time it arrives, it is urgently needed.

Zimbabwe’s winter, or dry season, extends from late March to late November. During this time, total rainfall plummets, and those pools we found at Munyawiri in late February lo longer exist. Motsi, one of Munyawiri’s schoolteachers, informed me that in past dry seasons, they’ve had to drive over a kilometer (.62 miles) to the nearest fresh water source.

This is why our projects consist of a three-part system: garden, well, and fence. Just working with school communities to install a garden would not go far enough in incentivizing anyone to maintain it. It would also be unfair, like giving someone a toy helicopter without the batteries. Wells and well-houses make up the bulk of our spending, but without them, we would not be able to call our system truly sustainable. By providing our nutrition gardens with access to a close, reliable water source, we ensure that they thrive for years to come.