Republic of Moldova

Relevant SDGs

This story meets one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations.

Library mobilises community to ensure adequate sanitation and hygiene for local kindergarten

For many years, inhabitants of the village of Bilicenii Vechi, 120km from Moldova’s capital city, has faced water challenges due to wells drying up and the inability to connect to a nearby aqueduct.  Many households are forced to travel outside the village to look for alternatives.

Over 3,500 residents are affected by this problem. In particular, a kindergarten, which did not have basic sanitation, leading to unhygienic conditions. Aurel Surdu, a local civic activist, explained the situation: “Both the kindergarten workers and their parents brought water from the wells in the area. In addition, parents when they came in the morning to bring their children to kindergarten, brought two water bottles with them each.”

Infrastructure projects such as the renovations of educational institutions and sewage system are a challenge for the local public administration. Local taxes paid to the municipality, only cover some of the expenses of public services. Overall, the economic situation in the municipality is below the Moldova average, and the implementation of infrastructural projects requires fundraising.

“In 2017, when we did a community needs survey in the village and heard many voices saying again: ‘We need water, we have to bring water in buckets from 300-500 meters away’, we decided that we had to do something ourselves. Change in the community comes from unity in thoughts, desires and goals,” shared Maia Bălan, Head of the Public Library at Bilicenii Vechi.

The Library decided to focus on the water problem of the local kindergarten. Librarians researched and located an artesian well, which had not been in operation since the 1990s, and started an advocacy campaign to renovate the well. As a result of the Public Library’s initiative, municipality-sponsored engineers designed a technical solution for the artesian well. Additionally, local civic activists, local councillors and community members, who saw the urgency of the water problem also participated.

The librarians raised awareness and mobilised the community. To fund repairs to the well, more than 120 signatures were collected. As a result of this collective community effort, the library’s campaign was a success, and the project was approved for implementation at a meeting of the Bilicenii Vechi Communal Council.

That year, the well was successfully renovated giving 120-150 kindergarten children access to clean water and improved sanitary conditions. Children can now wash their hands in running water and maintain good hygiene practices.

The Library together with young active members of the community continues to work on initiatives that support the Sustainable Development Goal’s target of access to clean water and sanitation. In November 2017, the City Hall of Bilicenii Vechi commune, together with the Ecological Fund, began construction of a water supply network which was blocked since 1995, to ultimately connect it to the Soroca - Singerei main aqueduct.

Librarians continue discussions with the municipal council and potential funders to supply the entire village with water and to ensure a better life for the residents of Bilicenii Vechi.

Contributor: National Library of the Republic of Moldova / Biblioteca Nationala a Republicii Moldov
Published Date: 26 October 2021
“The story of a woman devoted to the village of Bilicenii Vechi ” by Maia Balan is licensed under CC BY 4.0
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