Australian Update

Hi all, Dale here.  I have been back in oz for just over 1 month now, keeping a low profile, spending time with family and trying to settle back into coastal life.  It is definitely weird being back home.  I am feeling a bit out of place, lots of friends from the coast have moved on over the last few years, and nearly all our uni friends are shacked up in couple land now - an interesting transition period in our lives as we start our 30's, I guess the next thing will be everyone throwing out kids!  Tanya and I are a few years away from that (we think). Tanya has already started her new job - a malaria control program in the Solomon Islands. Her office base is on the north side of Brisbane.  Her first field trip will be in April.  I am in a bit of no-mans land at the moment.  I had hoped to resume an engineering job on the Sunshine Coast, however I will have to return to Tanzania in mid-June to help with the transition of our incoming volunteers.  Whilst I am happy to do this, it does place pressure on our finances and makes it difficult for me to re-enter the engineering market - I am worried as time goes on local firms will start to think I have been out of the consulting industry too long.  So I have 3 months in limbo land - I will look for a 3 month contract this week, if that doesn't work out then I am thinking of heading over to Indonesia in April to link-up with SurfAid.  SurfAid is working in the Mentawi Islands and they have invited me to see their CLTS (community lead total sanitation) program.  I will also share my WASH experiences with them.  This would be a great opportunity, however money is a real problem for us at the moment.

I am happy to announce that the Swiss Tropical Institute have committed funding for another volunteer placement.  We have Mirco Keller arriving early June.  After a 3 week Swahili language course he will replace Raphael.  Mirco is currently finishing off his environmental engineering degree.  On other good news we have Engineers Without Borders UK committing 2x engineers for a 3 month placement from July.  This is a beneficial relationship for MSABI and EWB-UK volunteers.  We receive young energetic technically skilled staff enabling us to maintain our low overhead NGO and the volunteers' gain valuable experience in an exciting development project in a real rural African village environment.  If you are a young engineer in the UK looking for a great opporunity to work on a project where you will have the responsibility to make decisions and run aspects of the project then you can apply at the EWB-UK website:
http://www.ewb-uk.org/programmes/placements/2010/MSABI

It can be very difficult to obtain work with NGOs for development work.  It is a very closed industry recycling staff who often do not have specific water/sanitation/engineering/science backgrounds.  Hence, I believe many large NGOs have a stale, inefficient, rigid, and expensive approach to WASH (water, hygiene and sanitation).  They merely copy what has been done for the last 30-40 years and often have a top down management template for WASH projects - and imo they lack the initiative, skills and quick-time ability to adopt new technologies and adapt to specific local social/cultural requirements.

We have a proposal through the Global Development Group (GDG) with AusAID.  We will find out later this month if we are successful.  If we are receive funding we will have the scope to expand our services and program - in particular we would aim to implement 150 new water points and 75 new pit latrines in an 18 month period, with emphasis on schools and health clinics.  Further, we would purchase a vehicle, motorbikes and hire full-time Tanzanian engineer/manager and also a foreign skilled Project manager.  I would also be provided a salary, enabling me to focus on the project and spend more time in Tanzania.  If the funds do not come through then we will continue with our current operations - rotating volunteer managers, developing our local staff and management capacity.  In that scenario I will continue to be based in Australia and try to obtain an engineering job here that allows me to make 1-2 trips back to Tanzania each year.  We are aiming to have full handover of the project to a local management team within 2 years from now.

I would like to thank the following people and organisations who have made donations over the last 2 months.  Each donor will have new boreholes and pumps dedicated in their name.

  • A big thanks to GHD who have committed $15,000 for 2010.  
  • Craig Masterton - a regular sponsor - thanks again mate!
  • Soich Family, Wurtulla
  • Thomson Family, Wellington
  • Elizabeth and David Carey
  • Morgan and Elisa
  • Jerome Gill
  • Linda Blackwell
  • Luarelle Euston
  • GHD Young Professionals  - note YP we have delivered text books to Idandu Primary (photos to follow)
  • Marchat Family, In loving memory of Jason Marchant
Raphael is working extremely hard.  He is totally snowed under - we have a huge work program across multiple projects.  It really is too much for one person to manage, but he is doing a fantastic job.  Standby for more blog updates from Raphael.  The team has completed another 5 new borehole installation over the last month.  We have another 15 pumps ready to be installed.  Pumps ready with sponsor names include:
  • Margaret Smith
  • Australian Direct Aid x11
  • Celtic FC
  • Dar Goat Races
Thanks for everyones continued interest and support of MSABI.  Next week I have 2 presentations - one for the local Rotary Club and one for GHD in Brisbane.  Stay posted.  Cheers Dale.

Australian Direct Aid sponsored installation

Australian Direct Aid installation

11x Australian Direct Aid pumps ready for installation.  Further pumps in the background.