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The Dugout Soddy

I often ask audiences to guess the place that I am describing when I mention a dugout soddy with a grass roof, sod bricks, goats, chickens, a woman at work, children at play, a husband laboring under the hot sun as an endearing older gentleman sits watching it all unfold before his fading eyesight. I am also quick to point out the rainwater catchment system attached to the roof of the homestead. It was a very important part of surviving everyday life on the prairie.

As you can imagine, knowing my travels, Africa is the most common response that is given to my question. Many are surprised to learn that the place I described was in fact Oklahoma only 100 years ago.

The image in this post is of a 6’ X 10’ oil canvas painting by Wayne Copper that is on display at the Oklahoma Capital in the lobby of the House of Representatives.

Sod houses such as these dotted the landscape in western Oklahoma after the land run. Sod houses were cool in summer and easy to heat in winter. They were never expected to last very many years since sod is highly susceptible to damage from the elements—especially wind, rain and temperature extremes. But the sod did furnish a readily available, cheap building material. The only remaining sod house in Oklahoma is located at Aline, Oklahoma and is preserved and protected by the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Surely if the prairie can gain clean water in less than 100 years, Africa can do the same with all the time, effort and technology that is now available.

Somebody had to be the first to step on the moon. I believe ours will be the first generation to see universal access to water throughout Africa!

At Water4, we would love to have you join us in trying! Come on!



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