Conclusion of CATJA Water Project – Madagascar

This project has been completed under the direction of Peace Corps Volunteer Patrick Spencer.

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

The project was to build a rainwater harvesting system for dormitories on the CATJA complex.

Patrick reports:

The scope of work as proposed and funded by Appropriate Projects was the designing, installation and user training of a rainwater collection and storage system for Le Centre d’Accueil et Transit de Jumeaux Abandonnés (CATJA) of Mananjary, a coastal city located in southeastern Madagascar. Given the climatic conditions of the region and the particular needs of staff at CATJA the orphanage had a real need for alternative water supply for daily activities, including laundry, of the nearly 90 children currently in their care.

Conceptualization of the project was the work of the Assistant Director of CATJA, Genèse Tsiindramana Voaloboka, who worked with the proposing PCV, Patrick Spencer, to identify possible solutions to the capturing of rainwater from one or more of the five main structures on the campus. Patrick researched appropriate methods of construction and completed the design for each structure while Genèse identified local product availability.

Procurement of the materials took place in late July 2012 and installation of two independent collection systems was completed over a two week period in early August 2013. Testing and post-installation management training was led by Genèse in mid-August.

The initial concept of collecting the bounties of rain that fall upon southeastern Madagascar in the months of December to March was first discussed during a visit to CATJA by Patrick and Raegan Spencer in December 2012. Both the Assistant Director, Genèse, and the Director, Madame Julie Rasoarinanana, enthusiastically supported the idea, and were charged with discussing the appropriate locations for rainwater harvesting systems with their staff.

Patrick and Raegan returned to their home in western Madagascar to begin designing appropriate systems, and with the help of Genèse, investigation of local materials. Once the project received funding from Appropriate Projects, Genèse began negotiating unit prices with local vendors in preparation for Patrick’s arrival in late July 2013.

Upon arrival to Mananjary Patrick discovered that staff had identified two well-suited roof systems to install a rainwater collection system, yet they were not the structures first imagined during design. After some value engineering and budgeting with Genèse, it was decided that two independent roof structures atop a new extension to the center’s nursery would serve the caregivers of the infants and toddlers in cleaning the mass of laundry the nearly 30 children produce on a daily basis.

This facilitated the need to install a gutter system, which had not been factored into the initial design and budget preparation. By scaling back the scope of the center-wide system to focus on the collection of these two important points the budget was maintained and the system could be installed.

Procurement of the gutter system, downspouts, elbows, 250 L storage containers, as well as hardware was undertaken by Genèse over three days in late July. A plumber often employed by CATJA and his assistant volunteered their time to begin installation almost immediately after material purchase, installing the gutter system in a single day the first week of August.

The downspouts and connections to the storage barrels were completed the following day. The storage containers were modified and necessary hardware attached the following week and the wooden stands meant to elevate and support the storage tanks were built and installed immediately afterwards.

Final connections and testing was completed on 10 August 2013, and the two systems are currently fully operational.

Genèse and Patrick had a number of conversations about the appropriate use and management of the collection systems. For instance, both agreed that the storage containers needed to be clearly labeled that the water was not for consumption, and discussed the importance of chlorinating the stored water once a month in order to prevent the growth of algae and bacteria in the standing water.

The regular checking and cleaning of debris from the gutters and tanks was listed as an important point, as well as taking precautions to ensure the overflow spigot is never blocked. All of these and other issues were well documented and delivered in a set of trainings to staff and children over two days in mid-August.

Genèse was poignant and clear about precautions and use of the system, taking time to answer a handful of questions regarding management and upkeep of the systems.

“I am glad that the nursery has an ample supply of water for us to use on a daily basis. We save time by not having to continuously walk to the hand pump in order to get our water supply. That means we have more time take care of the children.” – Caregiver at CATJA

“The project is complete, and it is a wonderful addition to the efforts of CATJA to be a sustainable and efficient provider for the needs of the abandoned children under our care. The collection of the rainwater will be of great help to our center as we continue to explore innovative ways to improve our facility operations and be a leader for other orphanages throughout Madagascar.” – Genèse Tsimindramana Voaloboka, Assistant Director

Having 500 L capacity for water storage in a region where rains are bountiful for only a short period of time each year will serve users well for the swing months both before and after the rainy season. The project has created an opportunity for CATJA to improve the care of the children by creating an appropriate and sustainable water storage system for the caregivers to use for their daily needs.

The realization of the rainwater harvesting system has catalyzed the staff and directors to consider other alternative and appropriate resource management systems while instilling a sense of confidence and pride for all involved. The project was completed in a carefully planned yet expeditious manner within the budget assumed during planning.

It is the hope of the proposing PCV that this project serves as a shining example of the collaboration and earnestness between Malagasy and Americans for years to come.

We are grateful to Patrick for completing this project. We are still seeking donations.