The first week of MSABI training in Namawala has been completed.
The MSABI employees have been working great and their is a real team spirit. Everyone has been participating in all the activities. The two trainers from SHIPO from Njombe have been fantastic. Mr Oloto has returned to Njombe, leaving Mr Laban to continue next week. Laban is great with the team. He is a natural born leader and educator. Because he has worked in all areas of drilling and rope pump construction he knows what he is talking about. What has been a real benefit to myself is the advice from Oloto and Laban about managing the team and work that we are conducting. For example, in our current agreement MSABI is suppling all materials. However, as we found out this week, it is better left to the person/group requesting the well/pump to source sand, gravel and bricks. What you would assume to be a simple task provided an ongoing niggly headache for me all week. Doing business can be difficult in Africa, and the Kilombero Valley is known for some funny tactics. You really have to be on your toes as there are many tricks that people play. Two examples cut short:
- we ordered 3000 bricks at a set price for delivery. Instead of taking 1000 bricks per trip as negotiated the tractor only took 800, so a 4th trip was required where they tried to charge us for additional labour and transport.
- we ordered gravel that was at a price per tractor load, that changed to per bucket when it arrived. They told us it was 50 buckets and demanded immediate payment, but after some days of us stalling the gravel was counted and found to be 23 buckets.
In retrospect this is all fun and games, but it is frustrating for anyone who likes straight up no bs business dealings. It certainly can wear on you after time, so the best solution is to make it the responsibility of the client to supply these materials! Further, I am removing myself from this micro-management tasks. We now have a MSABI purchassing officer (it certainly helps if there is no mzungu - foreiner around when discussing price). We also have a MSABI time keeper, store manager, and job scheduler. More distribution of duties will follow I am sure. One task we will do this week is have a group meeting to discuss team objectives, values and rules.
We certainly have our challenges working in a remote rural village. Equipment and material supply is a big issue. We have had to transport all our equipment out to the village. It is an added time and monetary expense. If we forget something or require a new piece of equipment or tool it is a 1.5 hr drive back to Ifakara. Without a car it is over 3 hrs on the back of a truck! With the motorbike it is around an hour, but I can only transfer small items. I had to make a few trips this week to get things we discovered we needed.
In Africa you learn quickly that a rigid timetable is impossible! We had lots of problems to solve, but the MSABI team battled and (mostly laughed our way out of trouble. We we ended the week having completed our first open well and having reached a depth of 7m on our first borehole. We are all sure of our success and we are still on target to complete our first borehole and rope pump installation (to a depth of 30m) by the end of this coming week. We hope to have an opening ceremony this Sunday.
On another note, both Oloto and Laban are very happy to be spending time in Ifakara. They are excited for the potential for "rota sludge" drilling here. There is no shortage of water here, it is just a matter of drilling to a safe depth and locating safe aquifers. The potential to roll out and expand this program is only limited by capital.
We also have another member from Njombe who is here to assist with training on the manufacture of rope pumps. To date we have constructed one rope pump and a set of jigs that makes construction easier and ensures exactness in the size/shape of each pump.
Digging the holes to mount the "rota sludge" drilling equipment.
Drilling our first borehole. MSABI team members watch as Laban displays how to operate the flushing of the drilling pipe.
Interested community members watch.
MSABI team member Ngila operates the flush whilst Rose is operating the cutting handle. The girls have been matching it with the boys!
Mr Oloto and Mr Laban from SHIPO Njombe.