The Water Bearer
From its very beginning, the Water Bearer program has succeeded in bringing drinking water to 36 villages of Flores. Since then, women do not have to waste two hours every day filling their jerry cans at the mountain top anymore, so they can now invest this regained time and energy in the improvement of the economic and social conditions of their communities. Following a survey made during the Summer of 2013, 9 additional projects have been added to the drawing-board.
Not Just a Beverage
Water is not just a beverage. Bringing water to remote villages required the opening of new roads, which in turn broke down their isolation. Some used the water program as a lever to cultivate vegetable gardens, establish a construction cooperative or even recruit teachers and build a school. The ginger and coffee plantation, the waste recycling Cooperative Bank Sampah and the botanical garden project are also direct spinoffs of the Water Bearer Program.
Although not sufficient, water is a prerequisite to the empowerment of local communities. «What struck me when I first arrived in Flores, was that water would not reach the foot of the mountains during the dry season while this is where the peasants live, recalls Gilles Raymond. Therefore, bringing water down the hill, became our first priority for the development of a sustainable, not just for subsistence, agriculture. Water has thus enabled us to establish strong links with local communities and develop a solidarity network where experience and fieldwork are continuously shared between neighbouring villages.»
Action, Solidarity, Mutual Assistance
The philosophy behind Program Otonomi is based on three principles : action, solidarity and mutual assistance, the objective being the development and empowerment of communities and the construction of an economy built around three poles, i.e. : access to water, agriculture and entrepreneurship.
Water is just a first step toward empowerment. The success of the Water Bearer operations has improved the peasants’ self-confidence and prepared them to move on to a second phase of development, which consists in the implementation of new farming and job creation initiatives that will have a positive, long-term impact on their income and their fight against poverty.
THE WATER BEARER, a multi-award movie by Pascal Gélinas,tells this remarkable story.