TANZANIAN SKY WATER

TANZANIAN SKY WATER, 13.03.2014

Tanzanian Sky Water

Extracting water from fog? NGP ped World's idea wowed us. So we decided to support them this year. As our first project of GOOD WATER PROJECTS. Two huge double fog-collectors where put up in a village up in the Norther Tanzanian mountains in the beginning of march, some more will follow this year. The fog-collectors give the school children of Dareda access to clean drinking water. 

Read our travel journal to find out what this means to them and what we experienced during the set-up.

The Arrival

Hooray! Today we will finally get our hands dirty and commence with the set-up of our fog collectors! And because during these times the early bird is making the rules we are all gathered together like tin soldiers at the Vocational Center right after breakfast ready to rumble, to measure and to cut the nets into the right sizes. And also we need to pack the cars. With tools, materials and water tanks. Lucky us, our group has become a little bigger over night: 16 people we count today. Who joined? The Tanzanian team of ped World, who usually represent the German ped Worlders while they are in Germany. They usually do on-site inspections and install test-collectors before the actual set-up of the fog-collectors. And now these amazing guys are in for helping us. 

The nets are rolled out in long paths on a large lawn and tightened, measured, trimmed at 10 meters and folded. Work that requires every helping hand. We need four nets for our two double-fog-collectors – quite time consuming. Two seamstresses will be engaged throughout the day with the sewing of the net, while we are going to prepare the constructions for the nets in Endabok.

The nets are made of polyurethane and are manufactured in Chile. The Canadian Professor Robert Schemenauer has already been devoted to the idea of drawing water from fog in the early 90s. Part of his research also dealt with the material of the networks and it took him full ten years later until he had discovered the optimal structure of the membrane. The production of the nets are based on this knowledge.

Fully loaded we’re off to an one hour drive on this rough, potholed road to Endabok. No trace of paved roads. But this doesn’t matter, at least it keeps us awake. On the way we are on a quick pit stop at the Qameyu Secondary School which has been using three double-fog-collectors since two years now. We are curious how the whole thing should look like when it’s done. And whether it really works or not. And indeed, a 1000 l tank is filled to the brim with water! Hooray again!

Finally in Endabok we start to inspect the site, determine the position of the nets and the exact measurements. A few workers from the neighboring village join the team and start digging 1,50m holes with full speed – and all this in maybe an hour?! These rockstars just wow us.

In the following hours we are busy with lifting and carrying small and big rocks, cutting meters and meters of wire ropes and preparing everything for the structure of the nets. Motivation and eagerness draw us to work quite fast. We can end the day with a little bit of sunburn and calloused hands but just in time for the beautiful sunset at 6pm.

The next morning the first structure is being pulled up. The 1,50 m holes have been filled up with rocks in order to weigh down the poles that have been fastened with the help of the wire rope construction.

Tightening the wire ropes, clamps and screws takes a little time and Kaya and Anna well equipped with rattle and power pullers are due to manage the job. 

The entire team has been working with an amazing rapidness, at the end of the fifth day both constructions are up and ready for the nets. We manage to hang three of four nets until the end of the day.

The procedure of putting up the nets feels like something ceremonial. Everyone is involved, holding the large 40 squaremeter net, even the children of the school mingle with us in order to give us a hand. Pulling up the nets is like flying our own little flag. In any case we are coming to business, visually and functionally. If we continue the work in that way, we will have concluded the installation of the fog-collectors in 2,5 days. We don’t know whether this is an all-time record, but it feels great anyways.

Day 2

Birdsongs, chirping and the yelling of the ibis kick us out of bed quite early. The night has been pretty short, but curiosity displaces fatigue. Whatever has been hiding during the night, is being revealed just now and takes our breath away: the Kiboko Lodge is located in the midst of the most beautiful swamplands, at the Ngurdoto crater, not far from Mount Meru whose beauty is inevitably for all the world to see this morning. „Tanzania, you are magical!“ I want to shout.

The crew from ped World just arrived at the Kiboko lodge this morning and we come and meet each other during breakfast. Hello!

In the name of investigative journalism and ungratified curiosity – it is time for some question and answers!

Who is ped World and who is actually behind this organisation?

ped World has been established by Bernd Küppers and Christina Bösenberg as a nonprofit association in Heidelberg, Germany that is specialized in dynamic active help throughout the world, on an equal footing. Social aid and nature protection projects are being implemented with the pursuit to create opportunities for the people that again enable them to take up responsibility for their own resources. ped World is a coordinator between foreign financial aid and sustainable, meaningful aid projects on location. The fog collectors are one example.

The extraction of drinking water from fog is a new and unexploited way to provide water in regions that have been deeply affected by the missing availability of water. And yet - not so new - this technology has been in the field since 20 years now and it actually works!

What do fog collectors actually do?

One single squaremeter of this specific, finely woven mesh – that is being produced in Chile – can filter the smallest waterdrop out of the mist that passes by the nets. The water is being deducted from the nets through a gutter and collected in large 1.000 l tanks. Five to ten liters, in good days even up to 20 liters of water can be collected in just one day with the help of these nets. A standard net of 40 square meters can provide up to 1.000 l of drinking water per day!

I should enunciate the fact that we are going to set up two double fog collectors in Endabok, in the region of Babati. At its best this means we will be able to provide 4.000 l of fresh and clean drinking water to the school and the villages close by. Annualized we are speaking of 1.46 million liters of water in 365 days. Instantly usable, no filter system necessary, no external energy sources for its performance. A good number!

More protagonists of our team: Innocent and Vuyo from the blogger trio I See A Different You.

Days 3-5

It’s a routine now. At dawn the cock crows, there comes the bucket shower and off we go along the potholed road to Endabok. Sounds like everything else but comfortable but we are happy people in a happy place.

Today we pull up the last one of our four nets. This is done quite fast, I mean, after having already pulled up three of those we are something close to professionals now.

Next we need to install the gutters and the water tanks so that the water can be collected from the nets. The gutters are being attached directly underneath the nets in order to catch the falling waterdrops. The gutters lead the water into the tanks. The tanks, each with a capacity of 1.000 l are placed right in front of every pole – in sum, three of them. Kaya and Anna have once again been assigned to a very responsible job: to saw a whole into the tanks. A piece of cake for the girls! The rest is just precision work.

The next  day is the day of the official hand over. The last gutter is being fixed and the last touch ups are being done and then we are good to go and to officially hand over the fog collectors to the primary school of Endabok. The headmistress, the teachers, the pupils and our entire crew gather around the nets. Tanzanian Sky Water is what we name the final product. Everybody is happy. We are happy. Happy about making other people happy. Happy about having created something altogether and in harmony. And that less can change more. No, we are not praising ourselves at this point. Nor trying to be these kind of do-gooders. We are just honestly happy. 

Before the day is done we briefly stop by the Qameyu school we already visited on our first day. The assisting headmaster tells us about how the fog collectors changed the life of the pupils in the past few months. The conditions of the site have been that good that the water tanks need to be emptied every day. It already happened during school breaks that the water tanks were overflowing. The pupils do not have to walk to distant wells for hours any longer, they actually have time to focuss on their studies. He proudly tells us that there has been a significant raise in the performance of the children in the last year. It is overwhelming. We walk all the way downhill, across country. And of course, again there is this really beautiful landscape... 

Departure

Our work in Tanzania has finally come to an end. In the meantime our team has touched homeland but not without being exposed to mixed feelings. Our film has been published throughout the media last week and allows us every day to reminisce about all the beautiful moments in Tanzania.

We are curious about the results and efficiency of our own nets in Endabok in the next weeks and months – we will follow up with first results soon.

Lots of sunburn, one injured man and two strong rain showers – there was nothing more to complain.

But we are not shutting down our travel journal just like that. In fact, I am discovering more personal words about this journey in my mind that make me want to spill it all out in order to conclude this first amazing Good Water Project for now.

Travelling to Tanzania as a tourist means you are being exposed to an only superficial impression and experience of a mesmerizing country which actually deserves a real in-depth insight into its culture and its habits. As a participant and contributor to an on-site project which involves work among locals, organisers and sponsors as a collective, you certainly gain an entirely different experience. In order to understand a little more about Tanzania and its people you should dive in to the daily life and work of the people. To work, to act and to establish something together reveals more of an established way of life than by simply observing it from the outside. We believe that we have gained a good insight to the Tanzanian culture. And that we built up a good amount of Swahili vocabulary as well.

But, no, this is not it. Despite the fact that we all barely knew each other, the work brought us closer together, eventually we even became friends.

Finding the right and also appropriate words that do a description of Tanzania justice has been one of the biggest challenges while writing. It is actually hard to fulfill. This country is so lively, spirited and full of energy, infused with adventure and unknown secrets, one just can’t come to Africa and leave again just like that. Africa is formed with a certain timelessness that brings one to overthink his/her mental attitude towards all things necessary and unnecessary.

But we certainly know one thing: Tanzania, we will be back!

 
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