The People

The last post for this week – the reason why we do projects like this are of course the people we are trying to help.

 

Therefore, thank you ‘Georg Fischer’ for your generous contribution, that allowed us to make a real difference in these people’s lives.

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Daily Photos next week…

I looked through the large volume of photos we took during the course of the project and took some time to edit a selection of pictures that have not already been published here. Just to make a sort of look back of the project I will share them next week with a daily (starting on Monday 21st to Friday  25th of September) post of a few photos.

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After next week there will be just a few more issues to cover here, since the project is pretty much finished.

So stay tuned and I promise there will be a couple more entries / reports.

Official visit

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Yesterday (Thursday, 20 Aug 2015) we went up to the reservoir again; but we weren’t the only ones. The main reason for our trip was the official visit of the municipal technical reception commission. They checked the whole project (project documentation, implementation, results) to see if all necessary parameters were kept and if it can officially be in function.

The commission at work

The commission at work

With help from the project supervisor

With help from the project supervisor

We let them do their job while they went about to check the different components of the system. Meanwhile we waited by the reservoir. It was me and Fuad from Caritas, Brigita the responsible person for construction at the municipality Žepče, Amer the representative of Zeljezno Polje, Šaban the representative of Balačići and some of the people of Balačići.

Amer, Representative of Zeljezno Polje

Amer, Representative of Zeljezno Polje

The future representative of Balačići

The future representative of Balačići

Amer, Šaban, a beneficiary of the project and Šaban's son

Amer, Šaban, a beneficiary of the project and Šaban’s son

Just to explain again – the project is in Balačići, which is part of the local community Zeljezno Polje, which is part of the municipality Žepče.

Even the mayor of Žepče and the president of the Žepče assembly showed up to participate at the little reception which was held after the official check was done. Because right after the commission was done and gave their approval of the project (with just a few very small remarks, which will be taken care of in the next couple of days), the people of Balačići incited us to one of their most beautiful places on their hills for some food and drinks.

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They slaughtered a lamb especially for this occasion and served it to us the traditional way. Fantastic!

The president of the Žepče Assembly (left) and the Mayor (right) participated too

The president of the Žepče Assembly (left) and the Mayor (right) participated too

This is where the lamb was cut and prepared for us

This is where the lamb was cut and prepared for us

We are very happy that we were able to finish the project is such a nice way and that we were able to implement it without big problems. The cooperation of the authorities (Žepče, Zeljezno Polje and Balačići) was a big factor why we were able to do it so efficiently and effectively.

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And we hope that the water of the new reservoir will flow without interruption for the people of Balačići for a long time to come.

There will be a few administrative steps that still need to be done (more formalities than anything else..), so I will inform you about them in the weeks to come. And maybe I will take the time to put together a little photo gallery of the project and the beautiful surroundings. Stay tuned for that…

And just to give you a little incentive so that today is not the last time for you to visit the blog – this was the view right from the little pond towards the other side of the mountain.

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Everything works continued

As you can see this post has become rather large. However, it is the most important report on the project and the most important event for us as the implementer. This technical handover to us gave us the chance to see if the project was done according to the contract and stipulations we agreed on, so that our responsibility to the people of Balačići is fulfilled. The length of the entry therefore seems fitting to me.

Discussion at the upper pressure-chamber

Discussion at the upper pressure-chamber

The inside of the upper pressure-chamber

The inside of the upper pressure-chamber

As already mentioned last week, we first went up to the upper pressure-chamber where we stayed a few minutes and discussed the setup of the system, the future maintenance by the local community and how adding this pressure equalizing setup was necessary and made the whole water supply system more secure and long-lasting. The representative of the Balačići local community, Šaban Aganović, was part of the project every step of the way is therefore now a crucial player to ensure the maintenance of the system and the sustainability of the project.

The representative of the local community Balačići, Šaban Aganović

The representative of the local community Balačići, Šaban Aganović

He showed us where the water comes from

He showed us where the water comes from

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After the beginning of our walk up to the higher pressure-chamber we continued to the other items of the new water supply system. But since we are already higher up and closer to the source we also took a look at where the different sources come together and the water goes on to the pressure-chamber and the reservoir.

Here 7 sources come together that feed the reservoir

Here 7 sources come together that feed the reservoir

Some of these sources have provided Balačići with water for several decades

Some of these sources have provided Balačići with water for several decades

From here we walk back down to the reservoir; a different more direct way. It was a beautiful day and that walk just showed the best views I have so far seen in Bosnia; from think forest, to hilly farmland and mountains in the distance.  But look for yourself.

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Back at the reservoir we inspect the pipes, the reservoir itself and also do a tasting of the water. We also check the small overflow-protection chamber just in front of the reservoir.

The reservoir from above

The reservoir from above

It is full!

It is full!

The people in Balačići think that one reason for the massive landslide that took down the old reservoir, was that it was not well protected against overflowing water and that the rest water that came out of the reservoir ad already softened the ground where it was on and washed the solid ground away from its foundation. We cannot be sure that this really was the case but we can make sure that this will not happen with our new reservoir and this overflow chamber will ensure exactly that.

The water is being tested

The water is being tested

Inspection of the overflow chamber

Inspection of the overflow chamber

After we walk along the path to the lower large pressure chamber that I have shown you already in previous posts. But as you can see, it is now neatly surrounded by a mound of earth and fit better into the landscape.

Lower pressure-chamber

Lower pressure-chamber

Šaban's son and future Balačići great

Šaban’s son and future Balačići great

From here we follow the path further and soon are at the level of the ravine created by the landslide. Just a little further down and right at the edge of the village we come to the lower pressure valve, which we also inspect. Then we taste-test the water again at the highest public fountain of Zeljezno Polje.

Lower pressure valve

Lower pressure valve

Public fountain in upper Balačići

Public fountain in upper Balačići

All long the way we discuss the project and the few small things that need to be taken care of by the construction company before the official technical check by the municipality and the handover to the community. The agree to do all the things we request in the next couple of days. To sign the protocol of our visit, we go higher up to a little resting place close to the fields where the people of Balačići grow their vegetables and berries. We are offered a ride with the most common mode of transportation in Balačići; I don’t really know what it’s called, just see for yourself.

The most suitable vehicle for this mountainous region

The most suitable vehicle for this mountainous region

There is a little pond up here, vast fields with different crops and even a football field. We are told that the youth of Balačići come here everyday in the evening when it’s less hot to play football.

The highest football field in the region

The highest football field in the region

Some of the hard working people of Balačići

Some of the hard working people of Balačići

After the discussion, the signing of the protocol/minutes of our visit and some coffee, we make our way back to the reservoir. On our way we come by some of these huge hay piles that are still made the traditional way.

The size of these is impressive

The size of these is impressive

Back at the reservoir we say our goodbyes.

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We’ll be back this Thursday for the official checks and handover to the community.

Everything works!

Yesterday (Thursday 13 Aug 2015) we went to Balacici to do the internal technical checking of the new reservoir and its connection to the water supply system – meaning we went together with the supervision company, the construction company and representatives of the local community to see if everything is done according to our quality standard.

We first went up to the upper pressure chamber that sits between the source and the reservoir.

At the upper pressure chamber - the arrow shows the location of the reservoir

At the upper pressure chamber – the arrow shows the location of the reservoir

As you can see on the picture it was a bit of a hike to get there and it was just the beginning of our walk along the water system – next week I will show you the remaining spots we visited. For now just know that the system is already in function and the population of Balacici has already been able to access water from the new reservoir for the past few days.

Enjoy your weekend – I hope to welcome you again here next week for more pictures and a few words about one of the last steps of the project…

 

 

Who are we doing this for?

I wasn’t able to go visit the construction site this week (Amir goes there every week and he and Fuad keep in regular contact with the construction company and the supervision company; so don’t worry the project is still taken care of even if I can’t go see it myself) so I thought i could to a quick flashback to why we are doing this project and who we are doing it for.

The destruction in the whole valley was and still is so visible; it really is impressive. Just look at this truck that was just completely bent and utterly destroyed by the force of a landslide. It is not the same landslide that destroyed the water reservoir; which is even more terrifying, to realize in how many places the ground started to slide in Zeljezno Polje and how many people were directly affected by the disaster.

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It is impressive how much has already been reconstructed and how the community has seemingly recovered from this scary event; but if you talk to people you realize that yes outward recovery has progressed (houses rebuilt, agriculture back on track, etc.) but inwards, mentally the people are even now still very much affected.

A little while ago when Berry Kralj, our Senior Program Officer at Hedquarters in Luzern, Switzerland visited Zeljezno Polje with us he was able to talk to some of the local population and feel their pulse a little bit. I became clear that they are very resilient people and able to get up again after being put down. They however also talked about how horrifying their experience was when the ground started moving and how it deeply affected them mentally. Many are affected by an individual and a communal trauma.

Berry Kralj (middle) with two locals from Zeljezno Polje

Berry Kralj (middle) with two locals from Zeljezno Polje

Every time it rains people are afraid that the ground would start moving again. When they hear thunder they are terrified. When they hear a loud bang from a car or something else many still cringe. Because it wasn’t just what they saw with their eyes that shocked them but when the ground started to shift it was terrifyingly loud. Any loud sound will bring this back into their memory and remind them of that night in May last year.

The destroyed houses, cracked ground, cracks and crevices from the landslides are all still a reminder of what happened – of the night spent outside in the forest cut off from the rest of the world and how scared they were; but especially how their home just does not feel the same anymore. Not everyone has experienced the same degree of trauma of course but everyone we talk to has some sort of traumatic experience where you can tell that it will not be easy to completely shake that deep seated fear.

So this is an important reason for the project, to bring back a little bit of confidence for the community and the people that live in it and to take away a little bit of the fear they experienced.