Moldova’s wells are omnipresent, picturesque and often unsafe, with water that may contain parasites or chemicals. I photographed these two when I lived in the village of Bardar during my Peace Corps training.
Soon their water quality won’t matter so much. On Friday, I attended the kickoff conference for a project that will connect Bardar to a modern water system, providing safe running water for many of its 6,000 residents.
The Slovak Republic, primarily through SlovakAid, is donating financial and technical support for the project, which is scheduled to run through May 2018.
“Fresh drinking water is a fundamental right of people,” Robert Kirnág, the Slovak ambassador to Moldova, said at the meeting in Ialoveni’s business center. “Water will remain a problem in Moldova for many years to come. We’ve identified water, sanitation and waste management as a priority.”
“Water is life; it is critical for people everywhere,” agreed Michal Mlynár, director general for international organizations and development cooperation in Slovakia’s foreign ministry. The Bardar project will “make a difference in the lives of ordinary people in the region.”
The Consiliul Raional of Ialoveni district, of which Bardar is a part, is carrying out the project collaboratively with Moldova’s Regional Development Agency Center (ADR Centru) and the Regional Development Agency Senec-Pezinok in Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital.
ADR Centru shares the fourth floor of the Consiliul Raional building in downtown Ialoveni. I work there myself and know people at both organizations. It’s great to see them collaborating to benefit the village where I had my training. At Friday’s meeting, I sat with my friend Mihail Tonu, Bardar’s vice mayor.
The project seeks not only to provide clean water for Bardar but also to raise awareness among public authorities and the public about the importance of water system management and quality drinking water.
Anatolie Dimitriu, president of the Consiliul Raional, called Friday “a very special day,” noting how the project will benefit Bardar and accelerate the process of providing clean drinking water throughout the district. The project is the first phase of a broader plan to distribute clean water more widely.
Eduard Ungureanu, from Moldova’s national ministry of regional development and construction, called the collaboration “historic,” one that ADR Centru Director Viorel Jardan predicted “won’t be the last” for Ialoveni district or Moldova.
Two development specialists from Slovakia, Katarína Manczalová and Eva Balažovičová, also spoke at the meeting, emphasizing the importance not only of the tangible benefits but also of the trust and relationships being established. Following the kickoff ceremony and a traditional Moldovan lunch, they and others remained for technical discussions with their Moldovan counterparts.
Many buildings in Bardar already have running water through individual or neighborhood systems, supplemented by the wells, but the water from the new system will be safer and more reliable. In a very tangible way, it will improve people’s lives.
Bardar will still have its wells, of course, many of them adorned with crosses and religious iconography. Their beauty will remain a rich part of this region’s landscape and cultural heritage even as their threat to the public health subsides.