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Kisese-Dissa, Magereza, and Teiriani Water Project - Tanzania
This project is made possible through the partnership of Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association.
Kisese-Dissa, Kondoa District, Dodoma Region, Tanzania
The project community is comprised of three neighboring villages: Kisese-Dissa, Magereza, and Teiriani. These three villages are located in central Tanzania in the region of Dodoma, notoriously one of the hottest and most dry areas in Tanzania. The majority of the 2,000 inhabitants in this area are people of the Warangi tribe that maintain their livelihood through tending large farms, where the primary crops are beans, peanuts, corn, and sunflowers, and managing small herds of livestock consisting of goats, cows, and a few sheep. Because these farms and animals provide the only source of income for most families here, they are constantly at the mercy of the rains and dependent on having access to sufficient water. "Water is life," states Mama Adamu, a grandmother living in the village of Kisese-Dissa.
In the rainy season, lasting from December to early April, the area is full of vibrant colors: the luscious greens of corn stalks, bright fields of yellow sunflowers, and the rich brown of constantly wet soil. However, by the time September rolls around, the last of these colors has faded and the landscape becomes a hazy blend of various shades of light brown and gray. When the rainy season has passed, the only source of water in the area comes from a natural spring in the ridgeline that forms a backdrop on the western skyline of the village. During these dry months, people spend their time fetching water, storing their harvested crops, and resting for the next round of planting. A few households try to maintain small home gardens throughout the dry season but often give up due to the heavy labor of fetching water to nourish their plants.
Life here revolves around water. Whether it is talking about how scarce the rains were this past year, when the rains will return, or whether the closest tap actually has water on that particular day, water is a constant topic of conversation in this dry district.
Children attend the primary school in Kisese-Dissa from neighboring villages. In total, nearly 500 students attend this school and are taught by 11 teachers in unfinished, crowded classrooms. It is not unusual to walk into a classroom and find 80+ students; some sit on crowded benches while others line the wall or sit in the aisles. These close quarters offer a haven for germs, especially since the children are currently unable to wash their hands while at school.
The clinic located in Kisese-Dissa is also the primary health center for the ward, comprised of five villages. People come here to be tested for HIV or malaria, to give birth, receive vaccinations or other shots, and be treated for various wounds. One doctor and a rotation of three nurses staff the clinic. Because both the primary school and clinic are located in this village, there are constantly people from other villages passing through. However, these unfamiliar faces are often from another village in the ward. Because Kisese-Dissa is located on a dirt road at least 3.5 hours from the nearest large town, it remains rural and unknown to many individuals outside the district of Kondoa.
Life in rural Tanzania is difficult. Every day physical labor is required for survival. Whether it is hauling water, preparing the farm, tilling fields, or harvesting crops, there is always something to be done. Every Saturday, people converge on the distant village of Madisa, a 90-minute walk one-way, to buy fresh produce for the week. However, despite this rigorous lifestyle, the people here remain optimistic and find moments to celebrate. Relief from the cycle of labor comes in the form of weddings, political campaigns, local soccer games, and religious holidays. On these occasions, people do not hold back. Whatever they have, they share with friends and neighbors by preparing sumptuous feasts and recognizing their culture by playing traditional Kirangi music on handmade drums and cow horns as the older women sing songs from their memories.
When surveying the inhabitants of Kisese-Dissa, it does not take long to gather a consensus as to what the biggest issue is: water. While the increasingly unpredictable rains are not something that can be fixed, the ability of the village to harvest and store water is an issue that can be resolved. In the 1980’s a 40,000 L cement water tank was constructed to harvest water from a natural spring in the nearby mountain, then distribute it to the residents of Kisese-Dissa through a pipe system.
However, since the construction of this tank, the population has nearly tripled and additional pipelines have been laid to provide water for the neighboring villages that have no other source of water; therefore, this 40,000 L tank has become insufficient. The tank is closed off at night, allowing it to be refilled by the spring. Water from the spring is able to refill the tank within 8 hours, after which time the water continues to flow in but is directed to the overflow pipe, which simply dumps the water onto the ground outside the tank, wasted and unusable.
Therefore, when the pipes are opened each morning, it is only matter of hours before the tank is emptied and unable to refill fast enough to maintain strong enough water pressure to push the water to the furthest destinations. As a result, water often does not reach its furthest destinations, and even if it does, it is usually cut off by about 1:30 pm. That gives people a period of four hours to haul all the water they need for the day, 50 to 70 liters per household. During this time, they are competing with their neighbors for use of the tap; in some places, a single water tap serves up to 200 people! When the water is cut off, people then walk upwards of two kilometers to obtain water from another tap; people will even fetch water from the nearby riverbed.
In the dry season they have to dig down at least three feet in the riverbed to access water, and in the rainy season they are using water that is contaminated by livestock, since the river is a popular place to water the animals. The local primary school is one of the locations that rarely receive water. Although there is a tap installed at the school, water only reaches the school about once a week, and at a very slow trickle. For the rest of the week, the students and teachers have no water to drink, no water to clean the bathrooms, and no water to wash their hands after using the bathrooms.
When asked about how she deals with the water issues, 6th grade student Shialah says, “If it’s really hot I bring water from home, and I just don’t go to the bathroom at school. Usually I can wait until I get home." Other students are not so fortunate: those who can’t ‘hold it’ will sometimes go to the bathroom in the bushes to avoid the disgusting toilets. And some students live far from the school and are unable to return home at lunch break to refill their water and eat lunch; they simply sit at the school and try not to think about how hungry they are. Students often miss class due to minor illnesses, such as diarrhea and the common cold, which could be minimized if students had the means to wash their hands at school.
Another area that is in desperate need of a reliable water source is the clinic for the ward, located in Kisese-Dissa. At a health center responsible for delivering babies, treating serious wounds, and treating HIV, where contact with bodily fluids is inevitable, the lack of water is an obvious health hazard. The doctor and two nurses are forced to haul water from the closest tap and store it in buckets at the clinic. The lack of running water greatly increases the risk of spreading disease through unsanitary practices. The absence of water at the clinic is due to a faulty pipeline.
The pipeline has a handful of leaks that are repaired in by simply wrapping plastic bags or rubber strips around the pipe to prevent water from squirting out. Adding to the problem is dirt build-up or other debris that clogs the pipes and obstructs water flow. The filtration screen that was installed at the spring source has slowly deteriorated, letting larger objects pass through and obstruct the flow of water, while also potentially contaminating the water. Local government officials have attempted a variety of solutions to remedy the water issue, but have been thwarted in finding a permanent solution. Last year, due to the scarce rains and limited water supply, numerous households not only lost the crops in their farms, but were also unable to maintain their home gardens, instead having to ration the water for day-to-day tasks such as bathing, washing clothes, and cooking.
Overall, the health of this community group is pretty good compared to other places, but there are still a variety of health issues. One of the biggest health issues among both adults and children, following malaria, is diarrhea. The doctor believes that people drinking from unsanitary sources such as the river or shallow, hand-dug wells without using any method of purification cause most cases of diarrhea. Common illnesses such as diarrhea and the common cold are common, especially among school-age children.
To remedy this water issue and assure that water arrives not only to the clinic and school, but also increases the amount and duration of water availability at other sites, the people of Kisese-Dissa will construct a 50,000 L water tank adjacent and connected to the existing water tank. The existing water tank is located about 300 yards behind the local clinic and is positioned at the base of a ridgeline. The surrounding area consists of small farms and a gulley that originates in the mountain and continues throughout the village.
Once the first tank is filled, the excess water will be directed into the new tank, instead of being dumped outside and absorbed back into the ground where it is unusable. This new water tank will also help to increase the water pressure, thus pushing the water as far as the primary school and distant village of Teiriani throughout the entire day. Via underground pipes, the new tank will be connected to the existing pipe system so that when the water from the first tank is drained, a valve can be opened to allow water from the second tank to enter the system.
To further increase water pressure, a new air valve will be installed at two key points in the pipe system, which will guarantee that the water reaches the furthest destinations. A thorough cleaning of the existing tank and pipe system will also take place to remove any blockages that have built up and to conduct any necessary repairs. To prevent future blockages, and to help reduce water contamination, the filter screen at the spring will be replaced and an additional screen will be installed where the pipe dumps the water into the tanks.
Furthermore, the existing tank will be re-coated with another layer of plaster to prevent cracks from forming and strengthen the tank. Additionally, once the lid of the tank is completed, the boards that were used to support it during construction will be resold and that money will be used to buy new pipes to replace those that could not be adequately repaired. All of these efforts – the new water tank, filter screens, air valves, system cleaning, and pipe replacement will ensure that the people of Kisese-Dissa, Magereza, and Teiriani will have a constantly accessible source of water to care for their families, enact healthy hygiene habits, and maintain home gardens. The local primary school will further benefit by using their new water source to construct two hand washing stations, which will provide students and teachers the means to reduce the spread of illness by washing their hands after using the bathroom or returning from the farm.
In coordination with this project, a one-day seminar will be held at the school to remind students and teachers of proper hand washing techniques and appropriate times to wash their hands. Another seminar about hand washing, water purification, and water management will be held in the village of Kisese-Dissa to educate residents about healthy practices and ways to reuse gray water. This project will take place as soon as the funds are received, and the tank will be completed within 40 days. This tank is a priority for the entire village and will be completed through a group effort. The chairmen from Kisese-Dissa, Teiriani, and Magereza have assembled volunteer groups that will come each day to assist the lead workmen during construction.
The first task is to dig the hole to make a level base for the tank; this will be completed in three days. The next phase is to lay the foundation, a combination of cement, rocks, and crushed rock. The architect has allotted four days for this process and another three to complete the floor of the tank. After a day of drying, work will begin on the 1.8 m high walls and continue for 12 to 15 days. Once the walls are finished, the workmen will spend three days building the concrete and rebar slab that is to act as a lid for the tank. For at least two weeks following completion of the lid, water will be poured daily over the cement surface to prevent cracking.
As work on the tank is being done, the pipe foremen will oversee the digging of the ditch to lay the pipes. This process, plus repairing the tap at the primary school, will take about a week. To ensure completion within the specified time, the foremen will pre-order supplies and each evening will check to make sure that the supplies for the next day are already there. The goal is to have this tank completed and functional by the end of January 2016. Using Water Charity funds, supplies will be bought to build the tank, to buy the pipes and parts that will connect the two tanks, and to provide a small, reduced salary for the builders. The most expensive items include bags of cement, crushed rocks, boards, and rebar, but there are many other smaller materials that will be used for this project, such as wire mesh, chicken wire, nails, steel wire, and the cost of transporting the materials.
Showing their dedication to the project, the community is providing the equivalent of 26% of the total cost of the project. Their contributions include labor, buckets, gathering large rocks and sand, support poles, expert consultations, food for the workers, land for the tank, and a night guard to sleep at the site throughout construction. Beyond these physical contributions, the members of the water committee – the chairmen of the villages, the village executive officer, and the three lead workmen – are expending their own time and effort to prepare this proposal, oversee construction progress, and complete evaluations for at least a month after the completion of the tank.
Number of people affected by the project: 2,000
Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Monitoring and Maintenance
Monitoring the progress of the tank and the indirect projects following the tank’s completion will be a constant, ongoing process headed by the village chairmen and the headmaster at the primary school. At least twice a week during the period of tank construction, the chairman of Kisese-Dissa and the Peace Corps Volunteer will visit the site to monitor progress and address any issues through an on-site survey and discussions with the lead workmen. The same process will be used to monitor the laying and connection of the pipes.
A week after the tank’s completion, each village chairman will visit all the taps in his/her village to assess the quantity and availability of water; this will continue for a month, with the results being reported back to Kisese-Dissa’s chairman, to be shared with the foremen, and the volunteer. Monitoring of the hand washing stations at the primary school will be done by the headmaster and primary school teachers, with assistance from the volunteer. Final evaluation will take place in March to assess the continuation of the hand washing stations. Finally, using a before and after survey, the amount of absences from school and children coming to the clinic with common illnesses will be compared to see if the new water tap at the school has made a positive impact on student health. This survey will be done from November 2015 to March 2016.
Even after the volunteer leaves, the local Water Committee will support this project. These groups of individuals, including the village chairmen, village executive officer, and three head workmen, have pledged to care for this project and sustain it in the years to come. The chairman of Kisese-Dissa and two of the workmen already volunteer their time and efforts to maintain the existing tank and pipe system and have vowed to do the same for this tank. Additionally, after completion of the tank, they will request a monetary contribution from each household, which will then be put in the bank to be used for tank or pipe repairs. The Water Committee is organizing the community contributions and overseeing construction
This project qualifies as a part of our Let Girls Learn Initiative, but is not part of the official Peace Corps Let Girls Learn program. We therefore class it as LGL+.
While all students at the primary school will be direct beneficiaries of this project, the female students will benefit in ways other than just having water to wash their hands and refill their water bottles at school. In this community, women and girls are responsible for matters relating to the home. This includes fetching water for tasks such as cooking, washing clothes, and bathing. Each morning, during every lunch break, and after school, girls who are able to carry a bucket of water are expected to help their mothers or older sisters to bring water to the house. This is problematic for girls who live in the areas where many people are waiting at a single tap to get water or where water does not reach in the afternoons. These girls are required to either wait or go in search of other water before returning to school.
While this is a necessary task, it often causes girls to return late to school and miss out on their studies, not to mention receiving a punishment for being late. This also limits female students’ ability to participate in after school activities as they are requested to return home as soon as school ends to help fetch water for the evening and early morning activities. By increasing the amount and accessibility of water in these areas, the amount of time that these girls will spend fetching water will decrease and allow them to return to school in time for the afternoon session. Having water readily available at the primary school will also help the older female students.
The age range of female students that attend the school is 5 to 15 years old. Many girls begin their menstruation around the age of 14 years old and it is a worrisome enough time without the added fear of how you will be able to clean yourself at school. In fact, some girls choose to simply skip school when they are menstruating, thus missing out on their education. In the past few months, the local Peace Corps Volunteer has worked with Huru International to assist these older girls by providing them with reusable pads and knowledge regarding matters of menstruation. However, it is difficult to put these practices into action when no water is available at the school to wash your hands after changing pads. Therefore, with the success of this project, these girls will gain the means to hygienically care for themselves without missing school.
The construction of this water tank will offer immediate benefits for the residents of Kisese-Dissa, Teiriani, and Magereza, but it also paves the way for potential future projects. After obtaining water security, people will be more able to maintain home gardens and obtain nutritious foods, leading to better nutrition. At the school, there are even more possibilities. For months, the headmaster and village chairman have discussed creating a school lunch program to feed the children that live too far away to return home for lunch, but the lack of water was a major deterrent in this initiative. However, with the completion of this project, creating a school lunch program is now a valid possibility. The creation of a school garden is also now an obtainable goal. The point of mentioning this is to show that not only will this water tank improve the lives of people in the short term, but it also increases the potential for future projects within the community.
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