MSABI overview update November 2009

Maji Safi kwa Afya Bora Ifakara (MSABI): Project Brief

The concept: To use low-technology approaches and community-based management to improve the health and economic status of rural villagers, by providing access to clean and safe water and sanitation.


Access to clean and safe water is a widespread problem throughout Africa that has serious consequences for both health and economic independence. There is an existing trend to use top-down management approaches and expensive, difficult to repair and maintain foreign pump technologies. Consequently, the roll out of these programs and the capacity of the community to maintain the infrastructure is limited. A recent study in 2008 by the International Institute for the Environment and Development concluded there are over 50,000 abandoned water points in Africa, representing a waste of US$215-360 million.

Water is a basis for health, wellbeing and economic status. WHO research concluded that for every US$1 invested in improved access to safe water there is an economic benefit of between US$5-28 through improved health, time availability and agricultural productivity.

The Millennium Development Goal 7 is specifically targeted to “halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation”. To achieve this target solutions are required that address the local community – educating and empowering them to create and manage their own water and sanitation assets using low cost, simple, locally manufactured technologies that are easy to maintain and repair.

Project Objective

To work in collaboration with disadvantaged rural Tanzanian communities to improve health standards related to water and sanitation, through education programs and infrastructure improvements, resulting in community empowerment leading to sustainable management of water and sanitation assets.

Project Solutions

Improving health using the following interventions:
·         Creation of new safe and clean water points
·         Hygiene, sanitation and nutrition education
·         Introduction to home based water treatments
·         Introduction of new latrine pit designs and practices

Other developments aimed for 2010 include new water points for farm areas with small scale irrigation schemes for improved cash crop production.

We are also linking with YOSEFO microfinance to allow community members to borrow money to afford a new water point.

Project Description

Our team is focussed on improving community health. We will introducing new knowledge and technologies with the aim to educate, capacitate and empower. These technologies are:
·         low cost,
·         simple,
·         easy to maintain and repair,
·         use local materials,
·         can be built locally,
·         can be operated and managed locally,
·         are environmentally sound,
·         are sustainable.

Our team is introducing four key technologies that that meet the above criteria:
·         “Rota Sludge” manual borehole drilling. This technology enables drilling to depths of 40m using human power.
·         Rope pumps. The community loves this technology. It is a sensible alternative to foreign hand pumps which have multiple expensive and difficult to obtain parts which regularly break. Rope pumps will be manufactured locally in Ifakara.  Rota sludge drilling and rope pump technology originates from Central America where there are over 70,000 installations in Nicaragua alone.  Rope pumps are increasing in popularity in Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe. There are over 1000 installed rope pumps in the Njombe region of Tanzania.
·         Split system compost VIP latrines. MSABI will promote the use of shallow pit latrines that will protect the underlying shallow aquifer and also provide a valuable fertilizer product for crop production.
·         Clay filter pots. MSABI is working with a local women’s group on the production of clay filter pots for home based water filtration.

Capacity Building

MSABI is focused on empowering the local community to have the ability to install their own new water points and pit latrines. We have a team of 12 local staff who have been trained and are capable of providing community education, “rota sludge drilling, rope pump installations and pit latrine construction.

Community Commitment

Through local research and evaluation MSABI introduced a very successful community contribution scheme, whereby the community is invited to form groups and cost share with MSABI. For the villages of Idete and Namwawala the contributions include money, labour and materials:
·         New borehole and rope pump – TSH250,000 (group) –TSH500,000 (private), plus 6 persons labour for one week, bricks, sand and gravel.
·         Conversion of an existing open well to a rope pump – TSH100,000 plus 1 person labour for 2 days, bricks, sand, gravel and one bag of cement.
·         New latrine – labour to dig the pit, TSH50,000 bricks, sand, gravel and one bag of cement.

The contribution from the community is significant. For example, the total cost of a new water point (borehole and pump) is approximately TSH800,000.


MSABI is encouraging business creation. Under agreement from the community council each group will have the option to sell “safe and clean” water back to the community.  This business model has the following advantages:
·         Access to “safe and clean” affordable water. The practice of selling water in these two villages is already occurring – though the water is from contaminated shallow water wells. Each group will sign an agreement that ensures compliance with the price-fixing scheme.
·         This will potentially become a very successful business. With an approximate user base of 100 people, each using 20L/day @ TSH50, the initial investment will be paid in full within 50 days!
·         By contributing money and labour the community obtains a strong sense of ownership and are more likely to look after and maintain the investment they have made in clean and safe water.

Proof of Concept

We have completed our community education program in the villages of Idete and Namawala.  The response from the community is very positive and demand for our services is strong. 

In less than 6 months of operation MSABI has completed 30 rope pumps installations including 17 new boreholes, 9 open well conversions and 3 replacements of broken foreign pumps.  MSABI has received a total of TSH7,132,500 from community contributions.  MSABI is very happy to have proven we can find water in numerous areas where the local community considered impossible. The rope pump is proving to be a very popular and affordable option.  Further, the business model is largely successful with income generation largely above expectations.

The clay filter project is moving towards commercial production.  We have completed a large kiln and continue to work with a local women’s group on production techniques.  We have purchased laboratory equipment to test the efficiency of bacterial removal.  We hope to have the filter pots available to the community by mid-2010. 

Major Sponsors and Supporters
·         Australian Direct Aid Program
·         GHD Australia
·         Ifakara Health Institute
·         Swiss Tropical Institute

Web Diary

Open source budget and expenditure 4

MSABI Pictures

MSABI education team providing safe water, sanitation and hygiene information to local Namawala village residents.

MSABI community council meeting at Namawala.

  The MSABI team after completion of our first borehole at Namwawala. 24.5m for 1,200L/hr.

MSABI team in action using the “Rota Sludge” drilling method.

The first MSABI rope pump installed over an existing open well, Namwawala. The works included a sanitary concrete plaster seal of the well, installation of the pump, concrete apron and site drainage. The community contribution was TSH100,000 plus bricks, sand, gravel and one bag of concrete.

MSABI borehole installation.  The cost for a group is TSH250,000 plus assistance from 6 people and materials of sand, gravel and bricks.

(Above) Before MSABI a dirty shallow well was the sole source of drinking water for a group of Sukuma people.  (Below) After installation of a MSABI borehole the water quality improvement is significant.  The leader of this family group has reported a decrease in worms and diarrhoea.

Picture of the MSABI installation at the Sukuma compound.  They are very happy to be pumping their own clean and safe water.

Small children wait their turn to pump water for their family

 A community group stand proudly next to their newly completed safe water point

 MSABI has very low overheads.  We have no office, car or paid foreign staff.  Here our drill equipment is transported to the job site using local methods.

Construction of the first MSABI environmentally safe split system VIP compost pit latrine.

Opening of the MSABI kiln located in Ifakara.  The kiln will be operated by a women’s group to produce clay pot water filters.  An example pot is shown in the picture.

A local woman potter constructs a prototype clay filter pot.

The filter is designed to fit into a common water collection bucket.

The filter in action.