Our current focus is on a large water system rehabilitation project that is underway. Hedaru is a village of over 22,000 people. The only water sources available are a few streams that trickle down to the village from the mountainside. The water is diverted by the farmers on the mountain to irrigate their fields, and what is left is transported through small, black plastic hoses, which are damaged at many points between the water source and the city. Because there is no regulation of how much is diverted, during the day the farmers take most of the water and little or nothing reaches the people in the village.
In the early morning, the water is sent to the village, and each family is allocated a block of time when they can go to an assigned faucet or tank to fill their buckets with water. People stand in line, waiting to fill buckets for all of their daily water needs. If the water runs out, the remaining people in the line don't get water that day.
The system is 35 years old, dilapitated, and designed for a time when Hedaru was just a very small village. Much needed maintenance has not been done because the population is too poor. Remember, the average annual income in Tanzania is only about $200 a year!
After a survey of the entire watershed of the area and water usage, the District Water Engineer and Water Commissioner determined that rehabilitating and expanding the current water system was the most effective and economical way to begin addressing the water needs of Hedaru.
The image at right shows the approximate locations of each of the phases of the water project. Note that the white capped mountains are not snow capped; the 3D representation on Google Earth flattened the clouds onto the mountains.
The early stages of our project took months of planning and working with the people of Hedaru to set work in motion. While much of the survey work had been done previously, there was a lot of leg-work to be finished before the Phase 1 could be started. Todd and Lori Byerly, two missionaries based in Same, a town about 50 km northwest of Hedaru, were instrumental in the early stages of our project since they have great insights into Tanzanian culture, financial issues, and communication. They continue to be very helpful in our efforts.
In the spring of 2007, Todd visited the planned location of Phase 1 with some of our Hedaru friends. We were excited to hear about the progress in a letter from Todd that we received after his visit.
Phase 1: The Rangeni Intake Structure
The first step in improving water supply is to find a way to more evenly distribute it for the use of everyone. To do that, it's necessary to go higher in the mountains than before to where the stream is running full, fast, and fresh out of the spring. The site that was chosen is called Rangeni.
Carrying 100# bags of cement up and down a very steep mountain on their heads for 2 hours at a time, the villagers and volunteers from the mountain did amazing work in 21 days! They drove materials up the back side of the mountain on the only road available, brought down the materials by hand, (or head!) and built an intake structure, somewhat like a small dam. It captures some of the water to be sent by pipe down the mountain to Hedaru, and leaves the rest of the stream to continue it's original path, to be used by farmers in the mountain to irrigate the crops that feed the people in the area.
The most modern technology and materials were used, the quality is first rate, and the labor was 100% volunteer!
Total cost of $3,000 – right on budget! Mission accomplished!
Phase 2 - Storage Tank at Mbukwe
The second step in the Water Rehabilitation Project was to build a 22,000 gallon water tank at Mbukwe that the pipe coming down the mountain from Rangeni could attach to. This is a very key part of the whole project, and when the system is complete, it will accomplish three major things.
1. It will give the people on that mountain access to water up on the hill, rather than down in the valley in the stream. Why does this matter? First, it's a long ways down to the river from where they live, and it simply saves time and energy. Second, it allows them to do some irrigation of gardens on the east side of the valley. The way the land lays, you can irrigate by gravity flow out of the stream to the mountain on the west side of the valley, but this east side is up hill and water won't flow there.
2. It allows them to catch more rain during the rainy season to be used later during the dry season. Tanzania is equatorial, so it has a dry season from May to October, a short rainy season in November, more dry season from December to February, and a long rainy season from March to April. During the rainy seasons, rain can fall in torrents, and most of it washes away because they have no way to catch and store it. This tank allows catchment and storage.
3. It helps regulate the distribution of a resource there just isn't enough of. It is important for farmers on the mountain to irrigate and grow food, and it is important for people in the village below to have drinking water. To keep peace among the people as the supply of water dwindles, fair distribution is a must. The tank and pipe help that situation.
Done. Cost: $21,000
$3,000 over budget: lesson learned, inflation is a killer....get done as quickly as possible. The good news is that the people in the village donated $2,000 of the overage in labor, materials and cash. Amazing!
Phase 3 & 4 - Pipe from Rangeni to Mbukwe & the Village Tanks
The third step of the Hedaru Rehabilitation Project was to to take the water being caught at the Rangeni Intake Site, and pipe it down the mountain to the large holding tank at Mbukwe (from Step 2). Because of the cost of bringing the pipe in from Dar es Salaam by truck, we decided to do Steps 3 & 4 together so the pipe will be buried all the way from the intake to the tank and then to the village tanks for distribution at one time.
What did this piping of the water entail? Looking at the terrain in which they will be working, it's hard to imagine how this could be accomplished any way except by hand. The mountain is steep and covered with rocks and trees. The dirt path up the mountain is narrow and twisted. The pipes were placed underground in the soft soil between the rocks, with many twists and turns. Our partners dug down deep enough to prevent vandalism and to keep the pipe temperature relatively steady to increase the longevity of the pipe. In the places where the pipe had to be near the surface because of the lay of the ground, they reinforced it with metal "sleeves" so people can't tap into it. Along this pipe path they also constructed Break Pressure Tanks (BPTs) to slow the flow of the water so it does not collapse the pipe. Seven BPTs were needed between Rangeni Intake, Mbukwe, and Hedaru Village.
The distance this pipe went is 7 km (or 4.5 miles), as the crow flies.
Done. Cost: $70,000
Phases 5 - Extend and Repair Infrastructure in Hedaru
Phase 5 of the Hedaru Rehabilitation Project was to repair and extend the underground pipe system in the village. We considered this a separate, stand-alone project, since the previous four projects brought the water to the village and made the system usable. With a generous Rotary Humanitarian grant, managed by the Ames, Iowa Rotary and the Same, Tanzania Rotary, this step finished in August, 2010.
Twenty-two new distribution points were constructed, six of them on the mountain and sixteen in the village. The provide water to residential areas, schools, and the local clinic. The pressure is strong, the quality is excellent, and is should run 12 months a year...quite a change for the people of Hedaru!
Completed: August, 2010