I am back in Ifakara for a short 2-3 week trip to plan the direction of MSABI. The project has exploded in the last 6 months. Demand for our services is beyond our current capacity, so we are working on increasing management capacity and our delivery systems. We currently have a backlog of 40 drilling jobs, all under signed community contracts and payments made - so you can see we are on a tight line to meet our growth, otherwise our community clients will start getting impatient. Demand, we believe, has come from a culmination of building our reputation for quality safe water over the last 2 years, combined with a large community education program last summer (800 meetings reaching 65,000 people), and the opening of a small office in town here (people can now find us).
The community business models are working very well. I visited Idete village yesterday and was pleased to see MSABI water businesses thriving - wet season demand is low but the ledger of one business was still selling on average 100 buckets a day with a turnover of TZS2000 - a payback time of 3-4 months. In the dry season he sells an unbelievable 500 buckets per day, turning over TZS10,000 each day. He says the rope only lasts 1 month during this high demand time, but he wasn’t unhappy as obviously he has profit to upkeep the pump. Of course with time, saturation of more water points would reduce business in certain areas.... Another owner with a new pump was asking when we would come back and paint on our MSABI logo (the pump left the workshop minus signwriting - this comes back to systems mgt). MSABI is a brand in this community for safe water and quality work.
We currently have 6 drill teams, pottery team, 3 Tz field managers, a graduate accountant, 1 Kenyan engineer graduate, and a team of 4 foreign volunteers. We are in the process of interviewing 3+ year experienced Tz engineers. We have 30 fulltime staff and up to 15 part time. To date we have completed 150 new water points. The Swiss TPH and IHI note our growth and proof of concept and are going to work with us to add a health research component to the project. We have 3 master students due this week to commence a study comparing the water quality between all types of water points. We also have so many ideas for engineering research, but these are on hold until we increase our capacity. Regarding funding, our future is still unknown and our growth is built on the faith we are doing a good job and funds will follow. The budget from GHD this year is enough for us to get by with the aim of 100-150 new water points. We now have full support from the district government. They have asked us to forward a proposal for them to submit into their development plan budget due mid-year. Other donors include TBL and Dar Goat Races, US embassy but their contributions are around 40,000 total. Total budget 2011 will be around TZS200 million (if we are lucky) - which will allow us to achieve a lot. We would like to look at purchasing a vehicle in the future, complimented by a mechanical drill rig (2012) for drilling rock and deep boreholes. This rig could be used to on campaigns for other like-minded NGOs such as SHIPO and iWASH (lots of rock in morogoro).
We are aware of the iWash project in Morogoro. Their program director came and visited MSABI and constructive discussions were held. II would like us to all work together and form a collective between SHIPO, MSABI and iWash. As a collective we can achieve a lot - however we have to work hard at this and be sure we are all aligned with basically the same objectives and models. I think we all have our individual identities, though there are obvious benefits of being aligned and working together - especially sharing of knowledge, models, systems management and training resources - and also for funding and strategic program expansion.
We have two new swiss civil servant volunteers, Marco and Nicole. Marco is assisting with the pottery project and also to run a water engineering experiment looking at simple processes to remove iron and manganese from borewater. Nicole will be helping with education of the community and our own staff (with English and computer lessons). Mid-year we will be joined by two new EWB engineers. We are looking for an irrigation engineer and a software engineer. The plan is to develop an access based accounts management system that can be available online and to improve our website.
Regarding myself: There is certainly more than enough challenges for me to be here fulltime and drive MSABI to the next level, which would include consolidating our model, integrating research for continual improvement, and replication and expansion into other regions. As you know I am fulltime in Australia working with GHD - which are the major sponsor – we will discuss my availability when I return to Australia. I will also need to talk to my partner Tanya.
I am having a great time being back in Ifakara. It is extremely pleasing to see the growth of MSABI – the strong ownership by all our team members, the increasing support from the community and the recent acknowledgment and appreciation from the Tanzanian Government.
Lastly, the MSABI team would like to thank all our supporters and donors who without you this project would not exist. Special mention this month to Skyjuice who donated a Skyhydrant ultrafiltration membrane filter http://www.skyjuice.com.au/ . My vision is to establish a water kiosk business, selling bottled water quality water at a wholesale price. Oh and thanks to Qantas who waived $1000 excess baggage for me at the last minute.