Arriving on the ground in Tanzania has been an eye-opening experience for the engineering team. After months of preparation, numerous meetings and hours of research, Tuesday marked the first day that we actually saw the pilot system with our own eyes.
The Tanzanian students we are working with led us through the narrow streets of Vingunguti, taking pleasure in describing the network in detail. However, as the engineers discussed pipe placement and technical improvements, I was struck by other things: the vibrant community atmosphere, and in particular, the pride people placed on their new latrines. Then the rain came. In just a few seconds, rivers of mud began to cascade through the streets, forcing most of Vingunguti to find shelter wherever they could…. This really drew attention to how critical it is to find solution to the soil erosion problem.
Following the visit to Vingunguti, the immediate priority for the engineers has been working on materials. Due to budget constraints, we are looking to source as many materials for free as possible. The pressure is high – the scale of our expansion depends on how much we can secure. However, what at first seemed like an impossible ask, has turned out to be surprisingly successful (minus the occasion where we ended up at an abandoned industrial park – stress, sweat and a three hour bajaji trip later). Several companies are keen to collaborate and form a partnership with CDI, so things are looking optimistic on the physical construction front.
The community mobilisation and health outreach strands of the project have had a slower week. Getting to grips with how things operate in Tanzania – who to talk to, and how to move towards our end of summer vision – has been challenging. However after a week of orientation, we now feel ready to make progress in these critical areas. The next few days will consist of meetings with key stakeholders, and carrying out social feasibility surveys in Vingunguti.
After all the hard work, we decided it was time for some good old fashioned team bonding at Kunduchi beach resort. This experience turned out to be slightly more eventful than we expected. After the Tanzanian students demonstrated their superiority in football and volleyball matches, it was time for the pool. Little did we know that not all of our team could swim… information that would have been useful to know before one of our team decided to dive into the deep end! After period of extreme confusion, and a rescue attempt by Tristan and Matt, we were all back in the safety of the shallow end – and the swimming lessons commenced…
Emma Fletcher, Engineering Project Volunteer