MD Dale Tanzania wrap-up

I have returned from another trip to Tanzania. 

At the start of the trip I lost my wallet and then my mobile phone, was involved in a serious car accident and spent a week in Dar trying to clear staff uniforms from customs!  Hence it was a refreshing pleasure to get to Ifakara and see the local team thriving and busy!   I was actually lost there for a few days figuring out my role as all projects were running smoothly and everybody was very busy and organised.  I guess this is what I have been working towards for the past 5 years!  Yes, hard to believe but we are coming up to our 5th birthday this Easter.  In 2009 we sent 4 representatives from Namawala village to Njombe to learn about rope pumps and manual drilling.  With a start-up grant of $15,000 from GHD Australia we managed to train drillers and a local pump manufacture, install 4 new water points and undertake a 6-month community education program!  Today we have a team of around 50 staff.  We are busy!  We are probably trying to do too much.  Here is a wrap-up of what we are doing this year:
  • Water points - we have 2 drilling contractors operating their own businesses now.  After a 4 year apprenticeship/internship it is time for them to run their own enterprise!  We will keep them busy as community demand for water points is high.  Normally at this time of the year people are on their farms and orders for water points are low - but we have a steady order book this year, so we are preparing for a very busy dry season this year.  I hope we have the donor partners to match the demand!  I can proudly say we have bedded down our 12-point quality assurance system - and I am confident this is setting the benchmark in the industry!  In parternship with the Stone Family Foundation we will be regionally scaling our innovative pump for life (P4L) program this year.  We have trained hubs to respond to pump repairs and also they will make fortnightly proactive visits to subscribing customers.  For $4 a month clients can rest easy knowing their pump is insured and will be maintained and repaired within 24 hours if there are any problems!
  • Tembo Filter Pots- Commercial sales of filter pots commenced in late 2012.  Over 2013 MSABI focused on delivering an intensive marketing campaign and establishing distributor networks and partnering with a microfinance institution.  This hard work is starting to pay dividends with demand for filters rising sharply in the 3rd quarter of 2013 and continuing to increase during the first few months of 2014.  Focus now shifts to handover of the business to a local women’s group, improved productivity and efficiency from the existing manufacturing facility and continued market development.  The facility is expected to reach production capacity by the end of 2014.  
  •  Establishment of school WASH clubs – MSABI has started a program rolling out SWASH clubs.  The program includes teacher and student training, manuals and uniforms, launch activities, learning modules, ongoing follow-up and evaluation research (including behavioral indicators compared to non-intervention schools).  SWASH clubs are designed to impart learning and improved long standing behavior change on issues related to water, sanitation and hygiene.  Teachers are trained and provided with a teaching manual with class modules.  A student leadership team assist in monitoring and encouraging improved student behaviors.  MSABI has commenced this program and the team is very excited and passionate about this intervention.  This program does not have funding and we are digging into our core funds to make sure this valuable work is done!
  • Education - Our education programs are taking a short break over the wet season.  Team members have been assisting with the SWASH clubs and also sanitation field research.   This year we plan to roll-out a self-funded education program.   This concept is a business model whereby local entrepreneurs undertake house to house visits combining simple WASH education with commission based sales of WASH related products.  Products include Tembo filter pots, toothpaste and brushes, soap and other personal hygiene products.  Entrepreneurs are also paid commission for any community water points, household sanitation or pump for life clients that are a result of their visits.  Entrepreneurs are not paid a salary and are 100% reliant on commission based sales.  (This is very much replicating an AMWAY type model).
  • Sanitation- Our sanitation team are unfunded!!!  Over the past 18-months MSABI has been working on a road map proposal for a non-subsidized market based sanitation program tailored specifically for the Tanzanian and East African context.  Our team has produced a comprehensive and detailed plan for a 2-year Phase-1 implementation program.   Sanitation is not always popular, but in our opinion is as important (or more so) than providing safe water.  With 4 years of pilot testing our compost latrine designs and data and knowledge collated from over 50 household toilets we are well placed to roll-out a market based sanitation program.  In fact, despite no funds we have already started working towards our vision with initial market research in progress and mason training commencing.  Of course at some point we will have to put a hold on this program unless we can secure a partner.
  • Water kiosks and localized water distribution systems- After a long product and market research phase MSABI is currently building its first bottled water kiosk in partnership with a local school.  The aim is to produce high quality filtered water for school children and sale to the community at wholesale rates.  This first pilot facility will be an active research project.  Currently there is no funding for this project beyond sponsored supply of the infrastructure.  Further budget is required to validate management systems and develop a franchise type business model applicable for replication and scale.
  • Water quality testing laboratory- MSABI has developed a leading water quality analysis laboratory in collaboration with the Ifakara Health Institute.  The facility has great potential for market growth and commercial expansion.  With this lab we have also commenced a number of research projects.  We have a full-time post-doc researcher working with IHI working 100% on WASH research!
All of these programs are run and managed by our young and passionate Tanzanian team.  I have to say they know more about the specifics and details than myself!!! Myself and Nik were particularly proud to be informed by our staff they had organised the opening of a new office and a community day whilst we were in Tanzania.  Everything was organised from house to house visits, education specials, drama performances, music, official office opening and a community football match.  It is such a nice feeling when your team shows initiative and the machine drives itself!

I am back home now for a few months.  I am expecting my first baby with partner Tanya.  We look forward to relocating back to Tanzania later this year to spend 12-months with the team and handover MSABI.

An exciting and big year ahead. 


MSABI is rolling out a program that establishes water, sanitation and hygiene clubs in schools.  These SWASH clubs have been shown to improve hygiene related behaviours and encourage children and teachers to keep clean toilets and value their water assets.  SWASH clubs in other countries have increased female attendance as they help provide safe and clean toilet facilities.
The MSABI drama team demonstrate how to wash your hands with soap.

The MSABI drama team getting into a performance

Each school SWASH club leaders are nominated.  They are responsible for ensuring the school SWASH plan is met.  They act as monitors and pull into line any children who are not following safe and healthy hygiene behaviors.  MSABI has developed a tailored SWASH manual for on going class lessons.

MSABI staff and school teachers participate in a tug of war 
Here I am posing against a local restaurant wall in Kiberege village

Bush bashing in the jungle behind Chiwa Chiwa village.  Some of the villages we reach are very remote.  We are reaching schools up to 100kms from Ifakara in this round of SWASH education.

Sanitation and hygiene specialist Lauren D'Mello Guyett with Program Manager Dr Nik Holbro and myself.  Here we take a break to enjoy a water hole high in the mountains.

MSABI does not have a project car.  But Lauren lent us her vehicle to access the remote Mikocheni Primary School.  The vehicle was punished.

Can you believe children still study in classrooms like this?  This is the nursery school at Chiwa Chiwa.  There were 75 little ones sitting under this grass hut with one teacher.

Here at Msolwa village we are building a school toilet.  This is an innovative dual vault composting system.  All waste will be composted and used as farm fertiliser.  We also collect urine separately which is a great source of urea fertiliser.

At this time of year the roads are very bad.  Dirt roads, rain and trucks result in a mess.  The truck on the right is in serious trouble.  The deck has separated from the chasis.

MSABI staff show off their new uniforms in front of the Ifkara office.