Crazy last days.

Very busy at the moment.  We have a lot of work on.  One team in Kibaha, one in Ifakara - starting our first irrigation project, and a team in Namwawala who are extending the depth of the open well at the clinic.  They also have a borehole job to start on Saturday.  Raphael is busy too.  He has been putting together protocols, managing the drill teams, and working on a contract to build a work area for the women pottery group for the coming wet season.

Today I was in Namwawala.  I visited the job at the clinic.  You may remember this job from before.  Its a bit of a nightmare.  We drilled a borehole, way back in August.  We hit rock at around 14m and then the drill bit snapped off and then the hole collapsed a few metres.  We did a pump test with little water.  We then decided to widen the borehole by using our open well diggers.  They got down to about 8m before collapsing issues.  They tried again but only managed to get to 10m.  A pump test still found not enough water.  So this month we managed to build a special tool that allows us to extend the depth of open wells if there is sand or clay strata below.  The tool is very effective, and we managed to extend the open well by 4m in one day.  However, we have hit the snapped off drill bit and are unable to go further.  We are trying to recover the drill bit - but will do another pump test to see if we have enough water at a depth of 14m.

I also visited my Sukuma friend.  The rains have started, so to get to his farm area was a challenge, but good fun on the motorbike.  We will be drilling a borehole for his brother soon.  He is a very interesting character.  He is trying an experiment to grow cocoa.  He is much interested in also trying palm oil - something I think would go well in this region.  The funny thing with Sukuma is that once you arrive it is impossible to leave quickly.  You get a lesson in taking time to go slow and communicate.  You can't leave until they have cooked a big meal for you too.  All good but a challenge for me with my current go go go frame of mind.

I also stopped by Idandu Primary School.  We installed a pump for them recently.  It is working well and I managed to snap a few pictures with the children.  We will help them with a donation of school books - as they have 200 students and only a handfull of texts.  I think I will budget $1000 to help them out.  A bit of a divergance from our operations, but I'm sick of asking other people/NGOs in the area who show no interest.

Also, the new latrine is finished.  Another ordeal!  Nothing is ever simple here it seems!  You may remember we were aiming for a dry dual pit compost system, but ran into immediate problems when after the first rains the pits filled up with water.  Well we then plastered the walls with cement, installed subsurface drains, put a concrete slab on the bottom of the pits and back-filled around the outside of the pits with clay.  Well you wouldn't believe it (at least I had trouble comprehending) but after the next rains the pits were full of water again - presumably either from backflow of the drains or through the plaster walls.  So I decided if you can't beat em join em.  We have converted the design to a septic system.  The first pit will hold the solids with an overflow to the second pit which will hold the grey water.  The grey water exits through a new shallow surface drainage system (1 foot below ground comprising a 6m pipe in gravel).  There are more details to the design but I will not bore you.

Tonight I am packing.  We will leave Ifakara on Sunday - and Raphael will take over the reigns.  I have full confidence that he is more capable than me.  I have very mixed feelings about returning.  I think we have been here too long now - adjusting back to Australia is going to be interesting!!!!


A community nursery project.  MSABI is drilling a borehole and will install a gravity irrigation system.


A child plays pool on his custom king size pool table.  They use a mini cue (stick), have a white cue ball (marble), coloured marbles, cut rubber from thongs for walls, pockets and even a triangle for breaking.



Idandu Primary School children stand to attention.  I wish I had a video recording.  They did a little thank-you song.

The kids stand round the MSABI pump.  Before MSABI the nearest water point was 2km away!


Donated by my friend James Foster.


Bahati carries a 6" pipe to the Namwawala clinic.  We put the pipe down the open well.  Then Bahati had the inglorious job of climbing down the hole and standing on the pipe whilst the team above used a bailer tool to remove sand/clay from inside the pipe.  The removal of material and the weight of Bahati combines to drive the pipe downwards, extending the depth of the well.  Normal hand digging does not work as a sand/water mix is unstable and collapses.



MSABI team members drive the bailer tool into the 6" pipe.  Bahati is down the hole.




The bailer tool is a 3" 1m long piece of GS pipe.  At the bottom we have a simple one way valve/flap - that allows material to enter the pipe but not exit.




Bahati is down there!  Bahati is an experienced open well digger.  It is his choice to do this work -  we would not attempt this job without him first saying it is OK, as he knows best out of our team what is safe and what is not.  Though I think health and safety in Australia would have words.


Outside view of the completed MSABI latrine.


The latrine project is sponsored by the Australian Direct Aid program - courtesy of the Australian Embassy in Kenya.


Poor photo, but an idea of inside the toilet.  A home made pedestal with urine diverted to an outside holding tank.


The urine diversion holding tank.