Phase 2 : Solar Pump installation
Lupembelwasenga Water project is a combined gravity and solar pumped village supply scheme, with the intake coming from a freshwater spring approximately 5km from the village. Construction of Phase 1 of the water supply system – gravity supply to the village – commenced in December 2016 and was completed in partnership with the village in October 2017. At that stage, 3 water points in the lower part of the village were commissioned. Phase 2 of the project includes a solar pumping station and pumping main to lift water to the higher end of the village, and a distribution system to 19 more water points throughout the village. Partly funded by a grant from Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission, Phase 2 commenced in November 2017.
Progress to date
Since then, the solar array and pumping station has been constructed, the pumping main has been laid and we are delighted to report that the solar powered pump is now working. It pumps 2.5 litres per second up to the top of the village 4.3km away and some 30 meters higher than the village centre. If we are impressed to think that the water is pumped up without any energy source other than the sun, you can imagine how amazed the villagers are!
Now that water is available at the top of the village we are building balancing tanks there and the village is busy digging trenches for the remainder of the water distribution system and 19 water points. There is health and hygiene teaching seminars to complete in the village, lessons in school and system management training too. It’s great that EI has been able to make such a difference to people’s daily life in Lupembelwasenga through this provision of clean water and improved understanding of health and hygiene.
The EI Tanzania team in Iringa had planned for the solar supply contractor to start the installation at the end of February. This date fitted with Andy Sharpe’s planned arrival a couple of weeks beforehand, allowing Andy time to check that everything was ready for the installation, and also for a short handover with Dave Rollett before he and Tricia returned to UK for the arrival of their new baby. But Andy’s elderly father died in February so Andy was not able to get to Iringa until 18th March. Meanwhile, the solar supply contractor was also delayed due to problems importing the solar pump from Germany and Dave and Tricia needed to return to UK as planned. The delay gave the Iringa project team more time to prepare for solar installation. Eventually Dave was able to meet with Andy in UK before Andy left for Iringa, and the solar supply contractor finally got the pump cleared from customs so they were able to start on site just a couple of days after Andy had arrived to oversee things. God’s timing or what?!
This information was also published in the May 2018 Down to Earth.
How would you feel if you had a three and a half hour walk to get water to make your cup of tea, take a shower or wash your clothes? Three and a half hours is the average time it takes for a household in Lupembelwasenga to collect water, every day. Once the water system is completed this will be dramatically reduced, with the majority of households having a water point within 300m.
Constructing a gravity flow water system is labour intensive, as the villagers have to dig a metre deep trench. It can be demoralising as you sweat and toil for hours to have gained just a few feet. Encouragement is so important, and the village was excited to receive a team from Emmanuel Church in Guildford this April. The team helped dig the trench, which galvanised the villagers to complete the first stage of digging. The team also constructed a fence around the source, a freshwater spring, ensuring its preservation.
The spring water stands in stark contrast to the readily accessible water sources of the villagers. Currently almost 50% of the population reported having had diarrhoea and vomiting in the last 3 months, which will predominantly be caused by the bacteria consumed in their water. We expect this to dramatically decrease as the clean, safe water is delivered.
The main balancing tank is now receiving the water from the intake at the spring 5.5 km away and is already distributing to three water points. A sump tank for a solar pump has been completed and so the next thrust is to lay the pipes which will take the pumped water to the highest point of the village. Preparations are underway for the pump installation early next year.
It is amazing what can be achieved when we work together! In just 3 days about 200 community members took up their pick axes, hoes and spades to dig another 3km through the hard ground. This trench is for the solar pump line, the pipes for which have just arrived!
Once the water system is installed it will have the capacity to serve every household in the village with a good source of clean, safe water. Amazing! But not the end of the story for our partnership with Lupembelwasenga. We want to ensure that the community has the training to maintain the supply and the education to ensure that disease is reduced and sanitation improved. We will continue to meet with and train the Water Users Association and to teach in the school, expecting long term benefits of better health and water security.
We appreciate your ongoing prayer and support as we continue to serve the people of Lupembelwasenga.
This information was also published in the November 2017 Down to Earth.
Water is now flowing at the new water points and at the school. People who used to spend 2 to 3 hours fetching water can now get it in a few minutes.
EI has been working with its partner church, the Anglican Diocese of Ruaha, on a water and sanitation project for the village of Kiwere since May 2015. The project aims to address the dire need for accessible water for the approximately 2000 residents of the village. Many of them have no option but to walk for two and a half hours to fetch water from the river during the dry season.
The project is mobilising the resources and collective strength of the community to construct a gravity flow system, delivering water from an intake on a higher point of the river, via nine kilometres of pipeline to storage tanks and water distribution points. The project is also providing a water supply to the primary school, along with a new student latrine block with hand wash stations.
The community worked really hard to dig a one metre deep trench for the nine kilometres of pipeline and water is now reaching the three 23,000 litre storage tanks in the village. The pipes for the water points have been laid and now work is commencing to construct the water distribution points which will enable all the residents to access water close to their homes.
We like to think of water projects having a ‘hardware’ component as well as a ‘software’ component and both are equally important. The ‘hardware’ is the things that are built – pipes, tanks, and taps but the software is what happens within the community and within people’s minds to make the project work in a sustainable way.
So, alongside the technical construction work we have been working with the community to form and train up a Water Users’ Association, headed up by a committee. When we finish construction, the Association will have ownership of all the hardware and will have systems in place to charge the users a nominal tariff to cover the ongoing maintenance costs of the system.
Because the source of the water is a river, point-of-use water treatment is essential in order for people to avoid water borne diseases and improve their health. We are training members of the local church as well as the water committee to train the whole community on how they can make their water safe to drink.
The traditional method is boiling but this has several disadvantages including the consumption of firewood and smoke. We teach people a simple method called SODIS (Solar Disinfection) for which all you need is a metal roof and a plastic bottle. By putting water in a bottle on a hot surface in the sun, the combination of a slight temperature rise and the UV rays from the sun kills 99% of germs for a six hour exposure. This is one of the simple methods we teach people to improve their health at home.
Since 2012 we have been working closely with leaders of the Anglican church and the village government in Ihomasa. Pastor Josephat Mbanzi planted a new church in the village in 2011 and the church grew quickly, especially with young people getting involved in the choir and football team that he set up. Pastor Mbanzi has a heart to demonstrate the Gospel to the community in actions as well as words and it became clear that the lack of clean water was one of the biggest issues facing the village.
One resident, Blandina Mpwepwa was going four or five times a day to the stream to fetch a bucket of water, a 30 minute round trip. She said the water caused illnesses, especially upset stomachs. Not only was fetching water taking people a lot of time but the health problems associated with drinking water from this kind of source are huge. Drinking unsafe water is one of the biggest causes of diarrhoea, which kills 2.5 million each year.
When visiting the church one Sunday in 2013, Pastor Mbanzi asked us to go with him to visit a member of the church whose child was sick. We went into the small mud house house and a young lady came out holding an 8 month old boy named Daniel. We were told that he had been suffering from diarrhoea for two days. He looked so very weak and we could see from his eyes that he was very dehydrated. We prayed for him and told the mother to take him to the local clinic for treatment. Tragically, young Daniel died the next day. We don’t know all the circumstances causing his death but it’s likely that his death would have been preventable if they had had a clean and safe water supply.
Following an invitation from the Diocese of Ruaha to help the church and community in Ihomasa, we started disussions with the village and church leaders, asking the question “how can we help you to solve this problem?”, and “what resources do you have to solve the problem?”. It’s important that the community have ownership of the problem as well as the solution and before we started anything we made an agreement of what the community would contribute to the project, especially in terms of local materials and labour.
Our water engineers came up with a simple design for a gravity flow water supply that brings clean water from a spring above the village to water points for all the community members to use. It’s a system that’s easy to maintain and there’s no machinery like pumps which are notoriously difficult to maintain.
Work began in January 2014 to construct an intake which collects clean, pure water from the spring and feeds it down to tanks in the village via a network of pipes. In April 2014, a team of men from Emmanuel Church in Guildford came to stay in Ihomasa for 2 weeks, helping with construction of a fence to protect the intake area from pollution by animals or people. 6 miles of trenches for the pipes were dug by the community members and the 14 new water points were operational at the end of 2014, providing clean water close to people’s homes.
Blandina Mpwepwa now fetches water from a water point close to her home and it only takes her a few minutes. She says it really reduces her work because when she works on her plot of land it’s a long way away and when she comes back she’s tired but now to get water after a day farming is easy. She said “It really helps us as a family to have good health, and it helps us wash our clothes, and wash the dishes. It saves a lot of time because where I used to fetch water from was so far away. So I can do a lot of other work with the time I save. I’m able to grow more in the garden right here because I’m not spending time fetching water”. Blandina’s sister said “This new water supply has helped us enormously , because nearly everybody used to be dependent on that stream. But there were animals using the stream as well, pigs drinking from it, there’s rats in it, all kinds of things and we were all depending on that for water, all along it. But now we can leave the stream alone, the animals can drink there but we as humans we are so grateful for the new water supply. Everybody is so happy about it and I, together with my family am so grateful.”
Although clean water is now flowing, the project isn’t over yet. Although the ‘hardware’ is now complete, what is vital now is the software – the people and community structures who are going to make sure it works and continues to work. A village water committee have been appointed and trained to manage and maintain the new water supply.
They have also been trained to provide hygiene and sanitation education to the whole community, teaching people through stories, games and songs about how germs spread, the importance of hand washing, and how they can improve sanitation at home. This is vital, along with improving water supply, in order to reduce disease. The community are also being mobilised to improve household toilets. Most people have a simple pit covered with logs. Some homes have no toilet at all. We are teaching people in Ihomasa to make ‘sanplats’. They are simple concrete slabs cast into a mould which can be fitted onto an existing pit latrine. They improve hygiene by giving a firm base to stand on that is easy to clean.
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