Conclusion of Kwizu Village Water Tank Project – Tanzania

This project has been completed under the direction of Peace Corps Volunteer Bethany Drahota.

To read about the beginning of the project, CLICK HERE.

The following is a summary of Bethany’s conclusion report:

Kwizu village is located high in the Southern Pare Mountains in Same District, Kilimanjaro Region. It is at approximately 1,710 meters in elevation. Around 2,000 villagers make their home here within the steeply sloping intensely wooded mountains. Primary occupations include animal husbandry and farming, with farms built within and around the forests.

When I arrived in Kwizu Village nearly two years ago, it was a somewhat shocking experience. Even after 2.5 months of training, nothing prepares you for being dropped alone in a brand-new environment surrounded by a crowd of eager strangers all hoping you’ll mean something to their future. Or at least that you’ll buy them a loaf of bread. There’s nothing quite like it. Our first big community meeting was only the start; at this event the villagers came together and created a list of projects they would like help with— and water was at the top of that list.

In Kwizu village trees are everywhere and the whole area looks lush and green, so when they first brought the issue of water to my attention, I was skeptical. That is, until we went on walks to visit the water sources and the intake systems made to carry water to a series of taps throughout the village. There are only three streams, yes streams, that support nearly 2000 people. The system was not set up to get water everywhere. In fact, almost 60% of water taps in the village run dry nearly 40% of the year. During these times women and children walk anywhere from 0.5 to 2 kilometers, on bumpy mountain roads, to carry water back to their homes. It’s not uncommon to see a mother with a baby on her back, bushels of grass for cow feed in either hand, and a 20-liter bucket of water on her head climbing up a goat path in the mountains, all while wearing a skirt. And it is also not uncommon for young girls to spend so much time in the mornings carrying water to support their families that they either don’t attend school or show up very late. So, while the village is indeed green, this apparent abundance of water turned out to be quite misleading. They had water (most seasons), they just couldn’t access it.

After these visits, we formed a local water committee, inviting enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers to join from each sub-village. Then we made a plan. We invited an engineer and several carpenters to evaluate the intake systems and advise us on how to go about setting up a system of cement tanks to help water get from the source to the people more effectively and efficiently. To this end, we proposed five large cement tanks, of varying sizes and in different areas throughout the village. In the end, we only constructed four of these tanks, but we shifted their positioning around such that the majority of villagers were still reached.

We built one 25,000-liter tank, one 15,000-liter tank, and two 5,000-liter tanks, totaling 50,000 liters.

The community contributed labor to prepare the sites and break up rocks for building. They also contributed cash to buy additional supplies. Water Charity funding covered the remaining costs. Then we set to work.

We traveled to town multiple times for supply runs and the head carpenter, Peter, began hiring and training other local carpenters to build tanks. At the end of the project, we had supplied the village with 50,000 liters of water tanks; seven new carpenters were trained in tank building; 23 trees (species selected to help with ground water retention) are being planted; and over 65% of water taps throughout the village now have water running through them, even though this season has been much drier than usual.

Women and young girls now have shorter distances to carry water and can dedicate more time to other tasks, including their education. Furthermore, with the increased access of water there is a push to create home vegetable gardens and neighborhood fish ponds to increase nutrition and income generation in the community. Kwizu Village is extremely grateful for this project and has high hopes that in the years to come, there will be more water available and accessible across all seasons.

We are grateful to Bethany for completing this important project.