Location: Songea Ruvuma, Tanzania | NGO: Tanzania Mission to the Poor and Disabled | Date: January 1, 2010
The Mbulani Secondary School in Songea, Tanzania is comprised of 538 students with a small staff and a large surrounding community. This school did not have easy access to clean water until the Tanzania Mission to the Poor and Disabled (PADI) partnered with Blue Planet Network to begin a project that would bring clean, accessible water to the community. The project consists of a borehole for the school, with the aim to minimize water born disease outbreaks and eliminate the time previously spent walking 1 km to fetch water. This extra time could then be utilized in the classroom instead. The hope was that this clean water access would allow the students to thrive.
In the early stages of the project, the local community gathered for a meeting where they were told what their responsibilities would be for the project. One of their tasks was to form a Well Monitoring Committee (WSC). Consisting of 10 community members, both staff and students, they would be responsible for making sure the water system remains sanitary and operational after learning proper practices in a one-day training. The community was also tasked with forming a Wells Maintenance Fund (WMF) that would be used to maintain and repair the well when needed. The school administration was able to set aside $80 a year for this fund, with plans to gain more funding from the entire school community. The inclusion of the entire community in the planning, implementation, and maintenance allows the project to be more well-rounded and address the problem of unsanitary water practices more holistically.
During the project, we ran into a couple of issues; the water technician managed to accomplish the work we had planned but the school community began to fall behind. The school community was also tasked with constructing the pump house, which require burnt bricks to me made. Unfortunately, January through March is the rainy season in Songea, and the constant heavy rains prevented the community from constructing the much needed bricks. This slowed us down but we still completed the project successfully in March of 2010. We learned to begin new water projects earlier in the year, before the rains come, in order to complete future projects more quickly.
The original goal was to impact 324 people, mainly students, with this water project. The actual impact this project made was greater than we could’ve hoped; 651 people now have access to clean water. The water is used for drinking, irrigation, classroom and toilet cleanliness, and washing and benefits students, staff, and nearby communities.