Water for Irodo
A village flourishes again
In a far away land lies a little village called Irodo. This land goes by the magical name of Madagascar, and it is a magical place. It is home to extraordinary animals that live only there and is surrounded by the Indian Ocean. The most special thing about Madagascar is its people. Although very poor, they are known for their generosity, hospitality, good nature, honesty, and happy spirit. Everywhere in Madagascar you feel welcome, and are treated with friendly respect.
Irodo is a remote little village in the north of Madagascar. Only some 250 people live here. Nearby is a geological wonder called the Tsingy Rouge; strange rock formations, a natural work of art made by mother nature. For its uniqueness, it has UNESCO protection.
Because it is far away, few people ever visit. But something special has happened in Irodo. Some years ago a Frenchman called Alain Gonon visited Irodo by accident, while touring on his motorbike. Alain had a special hobby that became his mission in life. Every year, through a small French organization, he would go to a poor country, select a village, and together with a group of people he would build a school for the children. He had done this already in various African countries. And this is exactly what happened in Irodo. Alain and his organization built the school.
Alain loved Madagascar and Irodo so much that he decided to stay. He sold his small construction company back in France, and left everything behind to start a new life. Alain lives not far from Irodo and visits every week. He buys everything that the school and children need. Every year he donates a full package of school materials to every pupil; each kid is treated equally. Alain’s family pay the teacher’s salary.
Then bad luck hit Irodo. Because of climate change, the weather became very dry. This, combined with deforestation, led to the wells drying up. The village’s small water system, with a few taps connected to the wells, was left useless. This was a big problem.
The people need water to drink, cook and wash.
But they also need it for their small plots. On top of that, they need drinking water for the most important thing they possess; the special cows called zebu. Every year, zebus were dying of thirst. The only thing the villagers of Irodo could do is collect water from a little river that flows through a valley some four kilometres away.
Alain struggled with how to solve this problem. Then his best friend Izmael came up with a brilliant idea. A long pipeline runs from the little river to the village well.
The little river runs through high ground, higher-up than the village itself. When the women walk to collect water, most of the path is slightly uphill. So, it should be possible to make a long pipeline from the little river to the village well, and let the water flow with gravity so that the well fills up whenever needed.
This simple plan required relatively little money or maintenance; it did not need any machines or pumps. (In Irodo there is no electricity, and certainly no money for fuel; and in this area, it is hard to find machinery.)
Alain and Izmael started work on the plan. They looked for the right path for the pipeline. They studied how to make a small dam in the river as an entrance to the pipeline. They measured how long and thick the pipeline should be, and then planned for each item they would need; the pipeline itself, the valves, the concrete for the dam, some tools to work with, and so on.
But most importantly of all, they needed permission and support. In the local culture, the holy men are very important. So the first thing was to present the plan to the holy men who guard the people’s culture, and safeguard respect for their traditions. They approved it. Then they had to get permission from the village chief and elders. These wise men of the village decide on everything that goes on. They also thought the pipeline was a very good idea. So they arranged a special ceremony to get the approval of the spirits and the village ancestors.
After that, Alain and Izmael could talk about their plan to the whole village. Everyone was very happy. Everyone wanted to help, and everyone was prepared to work for free to make it happen.
The villagers of Irodo had hope again
Hope that there would be water in the well.
Hope that they could once again water their plots and that their zebus could drink.
Hope that the endless walk up and down to the river would end and that they would not have to leave their village.
Alain made all the calculations and checked for the best prices. To make the project a reality he estimated 5000 Euros for all the materials and their transportation. Alain would deliver the materials to the village himself, because it is hard to reach and no-one goes there.
Alain would offer rice to everyone, because they would
need something to eat. He had already spent his savings on the school,
teachers, some medical care, and other contributions.
So what to do? No one had any idea.
And then came some proof. Proof that the old saying ‘what goes around comes around’ is true.
One day Alain had guests staying in a bungalow he rents out. A man and his family were there on an adventure holiday, and in the evening Alain and this man from Holland drank some rum together. They liked each other and talked all night and that is when Alain told Floris, which is the man’s name, about his special village. Of course, Floris was most interested to see all this.
The next day they set out for a visit to the Tsingy Rouge and Irodo. They had lunch with people in the palm-leaf huts, met the village chief, and saw that, indeed, everything had dried out. Alain explained his plan and his problem to Floris and together they discussed the details.
Floris and his companies are on a mission to make this world a better place
What Alain did not know is that Floris is a businessman who has developed the Grow and Flourish concept, and that he and his companies are on a mission to make this world a better place. They sponsor special projects in Holland and around the world; just to do some good and generate positive energy. To be responsible and make Profit with a Purpose.
A few weeks later, back home in Delft, The Netherlands, Floris presented this project to his management team at the Orange Pearl Innovation Group. When the meeting finished, Floris gave Alain a call and told him that Orange Pearl and the Grow and Flourish foundation would provide all the money for the project, and that he should start as soon as possible. The following day Alain drove to Irodo to tell the people the good news. Everyone started laughing and dancing and it was an incredibly happy day of hope for the whole village.
Alain got to work and ordered all the materials and the project began. The first job was to make a trail for the delivery of materials, and clear a path where the pipeline should be placed; they found the best route and, as predicted, it was four kilometres long. The villagers cleared the track and prepared the route for the pipeline. When the materials arrived, they had to be distributed along the route and everyone helped to carry them.
In the little river they made a small dam.
The dam was connected to a large natural filter. This
was a simple concrete construction filled with gravel and sand.
The water flows through the gravel and sand and is cleaned. The clean water goes through a large valve that can be opened and closed when needed. Past the valve, the water flows through the tubing all the way down to the village.
There are several ‘stops’ for the water along the
This is important so that the pressure does not build up too much. This can happen during the monsoon season when heavy rainfall is expected. Also, in the case of a disaster such as the tube breaking, the water can be controlled.
The stops also make it possible to create a drinking place for the zebus and for the people working in the fields.
Because the pipeline is black and the climate tropical the water in the tube gets quite hot; it can easily reach above 60 degrees and stay at this temperature for hours before the valves are opened and it flows to the well and the taps.
This is important, because in this way almost all microorganisms in the water from the little river are killed.
So the water is cleaned of any pathogens that can cause health problems such as diarrhoea. When the tube reaches the village, the water flows into a large concrete filtering reservoir that overflows into the well and to the water points. In the reservoir the water loses its pressure so that it cannot damage anything or erode the well. This way, the well is filled constantly with fresh water and there are several water points around the village so that everyone has access to water not too far from each family’s hut.
The Water for Irodo project was completed in a period of exactly three months. The original budget calculations proved sufficient and some money was even left over. This was allocated to the local school to pay for the teachers and the learning materials that the kids need. The project was officially opened just before Christmas by Alain. In the opening ceremony, everyone from the village was completely showered with fresh water; something that, for such a long time, was impossible in Irodo.
There was a huge traditional celebration party and the whole village joined in. Some zebus were sacrificed to please the spirits and ancestors. There was food for everyone. This was such an important and wonderful occasion.