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Walking with water


I can't even walk straight with an empty bucket on my head, let alone 10 or 20 litres of water. Let alone the distance on rough road. In flipflops. And with a baby on back and a basket in one hand.


That's one of the reasons why I was always puzzled (read: embarrassed) working for an NGO for which I'd write articles about empowering women in local communities in Tanzania (or for that matter in northern Uganda or South Sudan). I'm aware there are many types of empowerment and powerlessness when it comes to women in Africa. However, the problem was - I felt - that the classic Western NGO approach tended to focus on all what was wrong, missing or not working instead of looking at the outstanding, the capacities and capability, and of what worked well.


I'm not arguing for women walking 10 km or more for fetching water in rural Africa, I'm arguing for a different approach to how (most) NGOs communicate how they see the people they support.


Photo from 2009 in Kiteto in Tanzania.

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