by Alex Hatt, Chair of the UK & Ireland Water for All committee.

 Exploring the Projects: Witnessing Transformation

During our visit, we had the privilege of witnessing five remarkable projects that showed positive change. Two schools, Mitamisyi School and Ndumbi School, showcased the construction of safe water storage tanks. Additionally, we visited two rock catchment areas: Nzui Mumyu Rock Catchment and the Wendo Wa Mwau Rock Catchment Extension. Lastly, we visited the Nzeluni Sand Dam project. Together, these initiatives represented a substantial investment of £110,000 and positively impacted around 8,000 beneficiaries.

Meeting the Communities: Inspiring Encounters

On trips like these you undoubtedly take home things that you sometimes weren’t expecting, for example, bites (more than your fair share), mountain sand in your boots and the long-lasting imprint these communities leave on you. Each project had a committee, and the committees were predominantly women-led. We would be greeted with song and dance, shown around the project sites, and then led into a sit-down meeting where the committee would share their stories of resilience against challenges, resourcefulness in the face of adversity and aspirations for the future.

                        Evidence of Impact: Harvesting the Fruits of Progress                   

It is our aim to make sure that the projects we support have tangible impacts. It was reassuring to see that the initiatives were in good condition and provided communities access to clean water. However, it was even more humbling to hear that from this clean water, communities were able to enhance their resources into sustainable farming practices, improve access to education and reduce illness. There could be no misunderstanding on the far-reaching benefits these initiatives are having.

  Surprises in Unexpected Places: The Landscape of Challenges

Our visit also brought some surprises. We’d drive for hours, passing through the odd town, but for the most of it we’d be on the highway. Schools were reasonably accessible. However, at one point our road had come to a total impasse. April, being one of the wettest months of the year, left us with a road which was completely flooded for a good 100m. This meant we had to crack out our shorts and wade across the knee-high river and walk to a neighbouring village to get a motorbike the rest of the way. Although a novelty at the time, for children attending the school it was a good example of the unique challenges they faced. On the opposite side of the scale, when we visited community projects, we’d pull up to our location and they would be nestled deep in the rural landscape. In both situations, it was clear that their tenacity helped them overcome the geographical and logistical barriers.

  Post-Visit Reflections: Overwhelmed with Purpose

As we concluded our audit visit, it was difficult not to have an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude for all Atlas Copco employees who have raised the monies to make these projects happen, to Just a Drop who organise and facilitate our projects here in the UK, to the in-country partners Africa Sand Dam Foundation who support the communities on the ground and lastly the communities themselves who commit their livelihoods to make it happen.

Our internal audit visit was a transformative experience that reinforced the significance of Atlas Copco’s projects and the importance of fostering sustainable change. The visit has certainly sparked a renewed sense of commitment to empowering more communities around the world, and we are lucky to be able to do this in confidence with Just a Drop.