Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Drop in the Bucket, Part 2

Children look on with amazement as Amizade volunteers and a neighbor help clear a site for a tank designed to catch rainwater to provide safe drinking water for a family. Some of you have written and asked penetrating questions about this project. Catching rainwater is being practiced in many places in underdeveloped countries. It is inexpensive, environmentally sound, and takes away the stress of transporting water from unreliable streams or from tapping groundwater. For a number of reasons the tanks are made of concrete rather than plastic and are put underground except for the top. First an underground tank is supported by the earth so it is more durable and doesn't require reinforcement bar. It is less likely to be stolen or damaged and the water has to be ladled out rather than tapped. Taps leak or get left open. Amizade has donated funds and labor for larger tanks for larger families as well, and received grant money for a huge tank for a grain storage facility and school. Other organizations, a friend wrote, such as Rotary, are actively involved in supporting similar projects throughout the world.

The middle picture shows a student from West Virginia University and some bald headed guy, referred to in Swahili as babu (grandfather), moving some dirt. The family this weekend completed the hole which is over six feet deep and are in the process of amassing rock and stone to help begin the next stage of mixing concrete. I hope to show the finished work in a future post.
In the meantime I think of all the good fortune we have at home and our tough daily decisions such as, "Should I wash the dishes by hand or use the dishwasher!"


  1. Wow, another wonderful post. It's really interesting to see how projects like this are done. What is the cost for one of these smaller tanks for one or several homes?

  2. Terrific post as always, Lee -- or should I say Babu???? I, too, find it really interesting how projects like this are done. Considering the world today, it's really encouraging to learn more about organizations like Amizade. Have a great week!


  3. I don't have too much to say at this point, except that I think that bald-headed guy with the shovel is beautiful...even though I still haven't forgiven him for losing his hair!

    About this project: I feel another rant coming on, but I promised myself I wasn't gonna do it here. Basically, it's because rainwater harvesting makes SO much sense that I'm outraged that it isn't more widely implemented, in both wet and dry climates.

  4. Wondering if they laugh when they call you Babu, or is it more reverent than that. I am partial to the fur challenged myself.

    I agree with the comment on the collection of water. Such an easy thing to do in scope of things and a positive impact. I think it is great to see your group tackling this with them.

  5. So I was wondering how the 'bald headed fellow' felt the next day after weilding the shovel. excellent story. MB

  6. Hey -- it's not just third world countries that practice this! Jason and I have a rainwater catchment system set up over our garage and in our front yard of Berkeley, CA to harvest rainwater for our vegetable and herb garden. I knew they were practical, but I had no idea how easy they are to set up and use. Of course, we're only using it for one household, not a village, and we're not drinking the water.

    I highly recommend them!

    Happy trails out there!