Bringing safe water to the communities
Water safety is key to a good quality of life.
The smoke removal capacity of our stove does a great deal to save the 25 children per 1000 who would otherwise die of lung disease before the age of five. But there are other health issues we see in ICSEE Project villages. Village health officials tell us that 35 children out of 1000 die before the age of five from waterborne disease.
The prevention of waterborne diseases lies in getting the pathogens out of the locally-sourced water. Rural women, such as the Maasai, bring this water home to their families.
Read about exciting new developments in water collaboration here.
The ICSEE(T) completed and fully tested the water system pilot program in 2018, proving it to be a practical concept.The ICSEE(T) continues to design safe water systems adapted to each water source, and to the way the local women gather and use water. The pilots began with a small pond in Mbuyuni used by 40 families. The families had worked together to enlarge a natural depression where rainwater collected. While the level changes with the season, the pond normally has water all year round.
View a water installation video
The families and the International Collaborative spent two exciting days installing the first system. It can produce 2000 liters per day of safe water, enough for the 40 families. At this pond, the system includes a portable pump powered by a solar panel and battery. The couple managing the system fills the settling tank each evening with pond water.
By morning, the alum has cleared the 2000 liters of water. The clear water is then allowed to flow into a second tank for treatment with the calcium hypochlorite, and it is stored there. Finally, a buried pipe takes the safe water to a faucet for the women. They are very happy with the resulting water and its convenience and quality.
As part of the pilot, the ICSEE(T) installed four systems. Three are in the village of Mbuyuni and one at the large lake in Naiti, nearby. Together, the four provide 20,000 liters a day of safe water for 500 families.
The Naiti system is at a site where a major livestock watering system is in operation. The Project was able to tap into their existing pumping arrangement at that location that delivers water to the livestock watering trough. The system provides 10,000 liters of clean water a day.
Elephants come there often, break down fences and cause some problems but so far they have not interfered with our system. Our faucets are in solid concrete and most pipes are underground.
Lepurko is all fenced, and the 10,000 liter-a-day system functioning for the people there. This is the first site where we kept costs down by using four 5000-liter tanks instead of two 10,000-liter tanks. So far, this is the only one with a fully fenced pond.
The people of Oltukai village raised 5 million shillings ($2,200) and we added 4 million ($1,750). Together, we installed a 10,000 liter-a-day system there. If more funds can be brought to us, we will add a fence around just the end of the pond near the pump intake. The villagers need the rest of the pond to be open for livestock watering.
Scaling up safe water projects
The International Collaborative needs additional funds to support the spread of these safe water projects. Appeals to local government and private donors are underway to work towards scaling up this essential effort. There are 220,000 Maasai in Monduli district alone and preventative medicine of this kind is urgently needed.
Are you interested in supporting access to clean water in rural Africa? We welcome your gift.
Practical considerations in water research
Water purification is one of the areas flooded with innovations and experimental programs for poorer countries. One reason for all this innovation is that many agencies think they can keep costs down by exploring new ideas. There is also a concern about problems with bacteria and parasites, as well as too much fluoride or the presence of arsenic.
The ICSEE(T) prioritizes targeting the primary killers, including bacteria and other living organisms. All over the world, people access safe water through town or city chlorination programs. The International Collaborative decided to explore chlorination as a practical approach for rural communities where women gather water.
We first learned of programs addressing polluted rural water with chlorination from Kate Cincotta of Saha Global.. She works with the women of Ghana. Their chlorination plan is quite different from ours, and does not produce safe water right at the source. Instead, Kate helped established small businesses for women who gather dirty water, treat it, and sell it to other women. Although the ICSEE(T) approach is different, we share the chlorination approach. Thank you to Kate and Saha Global for sharing their experience. We learned so much from you.
New opportunities with chlorination and the ICSEE(T)
Maasai water sources are very dirty. There are no wells. The women collect water from shallow ponds that fill the depressions that the people themselves or the government have dug out for catching rain. These ponds are polluted even where the people have been careful to keep livestock away.
All testing sites, including small lakes,ponds, and the clear-looking water piped to the village of Enguiki are all heavily polluted with bacteria, including E. coli, demonstrating a clear need. The high incidenceof diarrhea in local children points to the presence of serious pathogens
Sanitation needs in rural Africa
Rural Africa’s water sanitation needs are no exception to those solved by chlorination, worldwide. The chemical approach is preferable to other treatments, such as those using filters or radiation, because chlorinated water does not get immediately re-infected when it comes into contact with bacteria. This is because the chlorine that killed the bacteria at the time of first treatment is still there, protecting the water for at least a few days. Because there are pathological bacteria all around, this is an important consideration. Containers from home or even a child’s unwashed hands can easily re-infect water treated without chlorine.
Costs are low to operate a basic silt-settling and chlorination system. The chemicals used, including calcium hypochlorite and alum are very inexpensive and readily available in Arusha, the major city nearby. The equipment, tanks, pipes, solar panels, batteries, and pump cost about $35 per family for installation. The Project shares that cost with the families that will be using the clean water generated by each system.