Friday, February 26, 2010

A Drop in the Bucket, Part 1

After my amazing travel through Uganda, I finally arrived in Karagwe, Tanzania, and began immediately to participate in activities of the Amizade water project. In conjunction with several local organizations, especially the Mavuno Improvement for Community Relief and Services, Amizade students and volunteers are helping to install partially underground concrete water tanks for families. Rainwater is gathered from the roof by a gutter and is directed by downspout to the top of the tank. Like a well, water is then fetched with a rope and bucket. The local agencies select the household to get the tank, a daunting task since everyone here needs clean water.

Today we began installing a 500 liter tank for the above home for a family of at least five and, I think, a goat. The middle picture is of the site director Stephanie discussing the tank's location with a neighbor who will help with the construction and whose family will also be able to use the water from the tank. Tomorrow I will show you further work in progress.

The top picture gives you an idea of how tropical this area is. Every day I eat several fresh bananas, sweeter than I've ever tasted, but I have to tell you, the rainy season has begun and it has been pouring practically non-stop. As a veteran of the Pacific Northwest Coast, I know rain, but this climate produces some seriously heavy drops. Children cut off banana fronds and carry them over their heads to keep from getting soaked. Groves of these lovely plants adorn this highland and transform it into a magical landscape, but be not fooled by this idyllic description, it is as poor and problematic as any place I have been on my adventure.


  1. Another wonderful post, Lee, very descriptive and I can almost feel the humidity. I have a friend -- he was the President of Komatsu in Portland and I was his assistant -- he and his wife have been working through their church in Tanzania for several years now. Your post made me think of them. The water project sounds great! Always enjoy your photos, they do create a vivid picture of the area and it's people! Have a great weekend!


  2. I tried to post a comment, and blogger just bonked on me and lost it. Anyway, this is another fine post. It's fascinating to learn so much about parts of the world I have no clue about. The wells will not only be practical and healthy, but the community well has had such a place in cultural history. It will be interesting to see if it enhances lives in that way also. It's something we've lost. I suppose we have bars and coffe houses, but I'll bet that a certain sense of community was lost when we stopped using community wells.

  3. That's actually a "pretty" house, though of course we wouldn't imagine living there with 4 other people and an animal. Not so long ago, maybe 100-150 years ago, many people didn't fare better here. I would love to see you under a banana tree leaf. :-)

  4. Wow! This is some post, Lee. I've seen all kinds of photos of this and other poverty-stricken areas of the world but it becomes so much more "present" and effective with your pictures and commentary.

    Try to stay dry. And no, I'm not talking about alcohol! :-))

  5. The first thing I have to comment on is that top picture, because it's the first thing that caught my eye when I opened your blog this morning. "Striking" is the adjective that comes to mind. I guess I really like high-contrast usual I'm attracted by the strong graphic quality.

    The second thing is that with ALL that rain, there is no actual shortage of water, and therefore no earthly reason for anyone to be drinking out of mud puddles, as you described in your previous posts. The problem seems to be a severe shortage of downspouts and storage tanks, and probably funds for same as well.

    What about something on a bigger scale--such as a reservoir, or two or three? Does the government of Tanzania have plans for anything like that in the works? "Public works projects" sound oh-so-boring when they come up on ballot initiatives here in the U.S., but just try living without 'em! Yet another thing we Americans take for granted.

  6. An ancient way to collect water. Many home in the Florida Keys still use this technique. I understand the rain situation. Some regions in the U.S. get an inch or two a day, and the people think they are in the tropics. Here, it is not unusual to get 7-10 inches in an hour. Keep your camera dry. Please!