Your story brings tears in my eyes and the memories of my childhood. I grew up in a small himalayan village in India. Fetching water from a mile was fun (?), a social outing. That is what every one else in the village did. That is what probably they were doing for centuries. The realization that children, especially girls, could use that time for going to school and improve their lives was not there. I was lucky to manage school and got opportunities to study in France and USA. Fortunately, in my village things changed - they have tap water, have electricity, roads and television. Not so everywhere. It is becoming worse. Population is increasing, water table is going down and the quality of drinking water is suffering.
There is a vicious cycle - energy-water-health-poverty.
The solution lies by bringing technology, finance and policies together. You are absolutely right that the "donated" water hand pump ends-up being a rusted monument. The need is to create sustainable business models where local person becomes custodian of the equipment, generate employment and grows from one water pump to two, three... Initial hand holding (for technology adoption) and financing (for capital expenditure) are needed. This must be supported by influencing policies at the local government level - water is a touchy issue.
We are trying to do our little bit in India (www.swajal.in).
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