snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > Urban Legends

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10 December 2012, 10:01 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 108,824
Icon02 New well disrupts village's social structure

Comment: Here is a story going around about Afghanistan ... only I heard
this same story told about a third-world African country at least twenty
years ago. When I heard it (circa 1995), it was about the Peace Corps
digging a well in Africa.

"I had lunch yesterday with a guy who was in the Air Force in 2001 and was
one of the first troops into Afghanistan. He parachuted in to set up
runways and air traffic control to bring in the rest of the forces. Later
he was in charge of 'targeted operations'. One of the targeted operations
was to provide a water well for a village. He talked to the people in the
village and got their approval and advice and selected a site. Then it
was turned over to the CB's who drilled the well which was completed in
about 4 months. He then went back to see how it was working. He was met
with nothing but condemnation of the well and complaints about American
meddling. They hated the well. It turns out that formerly the women of
the village had to walk for a couple of hours to fetch water from a more
remote well and they all went together every day. The men of the village
liked this 'man time' in the village when all the women were gone and now
they hated the new well because their wives were there all day long. So
the CB's had to come back and fill in the new well."

The version I heard back in 1995 was the same: a third-world village, a
water well several miles away, the women's task of carrying the water took
the better part of the day, the foreigners with good intentions completely
disrupted the village's social structure by building a well, and the well
eventually had to be filled to restore their little society.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 10 December 2012, 10:04 PM
Chloe's Avatar
Chloe Chloe is offline
 
Join Date: 13 September 2004
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 39,317
Default

Nice. They supposedly fill in the well because the men can't relax when the women aren't away doing crucial backbreaking work.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10 December 2012, 10:24 PM
Dropbear's Avatar
Dropbear Dropbear is offline
 
Join Date: 03 June 2005
Location: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Posts: 7,144
Australia

Yes - and the answer is to listen to the men and fill in the well.

The idea that change in resource availability leads to social change isn't new - and there are certainly issues that need to be considered but the answer isn't to try to turn the clock back.

In addition the story is so loaded with patronising attitudes that any consideration of the real issues gets lost: eg "restore order to their little society".

Quote:
"I had lunch yesterday with a guy who was a medic in the Air Force in 2001 and was one of the first troops into Afghanistan. He parachuted in to set up medical bases. Later he was in charge of 'targeted operations'. One of the targeted operationswas to provide vaccinations for people in the village. He talked to the people in the village and got their approval started work.

In 2005 he then went back to see how it was working. He was met with nothing but condemnation of the vaccination program and complaints about American meddling. They hated the vaccinations . It turns out that formerly 1/2 of the newborn children of the village had died in their first year of birth. The men of the village liked this because it made more food available for the rest. So the medics had to come back and randomly kill half the children born every year."
Dropbear
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10 December 2012, 10:30 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 108,824
Icon07

Quote:
"When I heard that we were going to get clean water I remember laughing, it was so funny. I can only compare it to someone who is in prison for a long time. When they are set free it's the most fantastic experience.

Since having the new water source life has changed in so many amazing ways. My status as a woman has been finally recognised. I have the time to look after my family as we have more time and energy.

Before we formed a committee and prepared ourselves as a community, men just saw women as animals. I think they thought of us as bats flapping around them. They had no respect for us and no-one would allow you to speak or listen to what you had to say. When I stand up now in a group I am not an animal. I am a woman with a valid opinion. We have been encouraged and trained and the whole community has learnt to understand us."
http://www.wateraid.org/uk/what_we_d...r_work/341.asp
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10 December 2012, 11:22 PM
crescent's Avatar
crescent crescent is offline
 
Join Date: 13 August 2008
Location: St. George, UT
Posts: 2,087
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
He was met
with nothing but condemnation of the well and complaints about American
meddling. They hated the well.
Good thing he apparently didn't speak to a single woman in the village. Could you find a better argument for women in the military?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10 December 2012, 11:28 PM
crescent's Avatar
crescent crescent is offline
 
Join Date: 13 August 2008
Location: St. George, UT
Posts: 2,087
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Comment: Here is a story going around about Afghanistan ... only I heard
this same story told about a third-world African country at least twenty
years ago. When I heard it (circa 1995), it was about the Peace Corps
digging a well in Africa.
Also - the PC does not operate that way. The PCV would work with the village to see if they needed or wanted a well. If so, the Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) would work with the village to select a suitable location for the well and try to ensure that the water would be distributed equitably. Then the PCV would work with the village and the PC administration to find an Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to fund or drill the well. There would be less chance of an unhappy surprise that way.

It would be very unlikely that the PC would fund the well itself, unless it was very cheap and the village or an NGO matched much of the cost.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10 December 2012, 11:47 PM
snopes's Avatar
snopes snopes is offline
 
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 108,824
Icon05

Quote:
Originally Posted by crescent View Post
Good thing he apparently didn't speak to a single woman in the village. Could you find a better argument for women in the military?
That's what I was thinking. But say, for the sake of argument, this interaction was with a highly patriarchal society. Would it be considered appropriate for the outsiders to solicit women's opinions, or would that also be considered (by both the villagers and the group providing the aid) to be a form of inappropriate "meddling"?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10 December 2012, 11:56 PM
crescent's Avatar
crescent crescent is offline
 
Join Date: 13 August 2008
Location: St. George, UT
Posts: 2,087
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
But say, for the sake of argument, this interaction was with a highly patriarchal society. Would it be considered appropriate for the outsiders to solicit women's opinions, or would that also be considered (by both the villagers and the group providing the aid) to be a form of inappropriate "meddling"?
It might - but the key thing is that if the Americans had a woman present, then the host country women would at least have a chance to express themselves. I assuming a culture in which the host country women are forbidden from speaking to foreign men, but can have some interaction with foreign women. I gather this is the case in Afghanistan.

As for the opinions of the aid group, it would vary from one group to another. The ones I interacted with back in the day were very aware that improvement in overall living standards started with women more than men.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 11 December 2012, 12:26 AM
Cervus's Avatar
Cervus Cervus is offline
 
Join Date: 21 October 2002
Location: Florida
Posts: 19,692
Default

Quote:
It turns out that formerly the women of the village had to walk for a couple of hours to fetch water from a more remote well and they all went together every day. The men of the village liked this 'man time' in the village when all the women were gone and now they hated the new well because their wives were there all day long.
It turns out the women loved having an excuse to get away from their husbands, to experience a bit of freedom, gossip, and female bonding every day, and they hated the new well because they couldn't have time to themselves.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 11 December 2012, 12:36 AM
Chloe's Avatar
Chloe Chloe is offline
 
Join Date: 13 September 2004
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 39,317
Default

Yeah, not very likely. Getting water is hard heavy work. Women and girls are the primary water carriers in many parts of the developing world, and they often have to walk miles to get it, and carry the heavy containers back. The time and energy they spend on that they can't spend on other necessary parts of their lives, including child care. It's a huge problem.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 11 December 2012, 12:52 AM
kia's Avatar
kia kia is offline
 
Join Date: 07 February 2012
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 181
Default

Not to mention what they risk having happen to them while they walk out alone.

http://www.wateraid.org/uk/what_we_do/the_need/206.asp
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 11 December 2012, 12:54 AM
Chloe's Avatar
Chloe Chloe is offline
 
Join Date: 13 September 2004
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 39,317
Default

Ugh. This has to be one of the most offensive ULs I've ever encountered.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 11 December 2012, 12:57 AM
Dropbear's Avatar
Dropbear Dropbear is offline
 
Join Date: 03 June 2005
Location: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Posts: 7,144
Australia

Thanks Kia - I was looking for similar information. Collecting water from hours away is difficult and dangerous.

Dropbear
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The Serbian village that's warning of a vampire on the loose A Turtle Named Mack Weird News 0 28 November 2012 08:29 PM
Austrian village F---ing to vote on name change snopes Language 8 23 April 2012 10:35 PM
The human brain is the most complex structure known ganzfeld Science 29 04 September 2008 03:33 PM


All times are GMT. The time now is 02:33 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.