Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Water and Electricity - Valuable Commodities

We, in America, don't always understand how difficult life can be without water or electricity. I can tell you that I have a new appreciation for both now!

Egbe hospital compound has a shortage of water. They have several bore holes which are pumped to a holding tank. From there, it's gravity fed to the buildings in the compound. The problem is that there isn't enough to keep it on all the time so it's rationed. We have water from 6-8 in the morning and 5-7 in the evening. While it's running, we have to shower, run the washing machine and fill our water buckets so we have water when it shuts off.
The bathroom in our guest house. 
The black can is plastic and holds water for washing and flushing
when we don't have running water.

Our shower.  Our guest house needs renovations but is holding up
until the house across the way is ready to house teams.
 What happens when the water is off? We have a large covered container in the bathroom which we dip out of to wash with. I haven't washed with hot water since I've been here. We can't flush the toilet without water so we all use it and flush with the bucket when necessary, if you get my point. The ladies keep water in bowls in the kitchen for washing dishes and filling the filters. See the water isn't totally clean. It's fine for washing but we can't drink it. We have 2 Katadyn water filter systems for our drinking water. Ronke and Duro clean our used water bottles, refill them with the filtered water and put them in the freezer. That leads me to electricity.

Ronke and Duro's domain!  This is the kitchen in our guest house. 
There are many containers for water. 
The 2 in the foreground are for trash and compost.

We have 3 forms of electricity here. NEPA - Nigeria Electric Power Authority; the hospital generator; and house generators. NEPA cannot be counted on. It goes off and on at will. We would like to have a discussion with the guy who throws the switch! Sometimes it comes on and goes out again within minutes, sometimes, it's on for hours. We've been woke up more than once in the middle of the night when it came on and with it every light and fan in the house!

The hospital generator is on from 8:30 to 9:30 every night unless NEPA is running. I'm not sure if it's on through the day or not.

We have a generator in the garage at the house which we use at meal times when the other 2 aren't on. There is a switch that has to be thrown to go from the outside power to the gen. We have a light bulb that comes on when we have power from NEPA or the hospital. When it stays on more than 3-4 minutes, we flip it over from the house gen, if we've been using it.

Back to putting the water in the freezer. With the power off and on all day, our water doesn't get cold enough in the fridge. Sometimes, it's a little icy in the freezer and sometimes it's slightly chilled. It depends on how much the power has been on that day or night. Abby keeps the big freezer full so things don't thaw too fast. Stuff in the fridge doesn't last quite as long as they would in your fridge.

We have learned to keep our flashlights handy at night because you never know when the lights will go out. As I'm writing this, we were on NEPA and John went to get his flashlight. As he came out, the lights went out. Good timing! It just came back on. Wonder how long it will stay on this time? It's nice when it comes on at night. The fans help us to sleep better.

As hard as this is to live with, we have it easy here on the compound. Few, if any have water piped into their homes. There are water tanks around town that people walk to. The women and children carry it on their heads and in buckets. It hurts my neck just watching it!! As for electricity, some people have NEPA in their houses when it's on but few have generators. Abby was telling us how frustrating it is to go pick up a load of wood from the planer only to be told they haven't had NEPA so it isn's ready. Hard to run a business with no power.

It hasn't been terrible to deal with all of this but I'm only here for 2 weeks. I can't imagine living my life like this. I don't think I'll take water or power for granted ever again.

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