Monday, January 12, 2015

Water issues in Ilula

Our Ilula group spent three days in the village evaluating the piping system. As we learned more about Ilula, it became apparent that there are several problems with the existing system. Our task now is to work toward solutions to these problems to get reliable, clean water throughout the village.
Our Ilula team includes Steve, Matt, Brant, Tyler, Ben, Aderick, and Peter. We traveled to the Ilula village for three days to work on the local water system.

On our first day, we were welcomed to the community by Dr. Saga, a retired practitioner, and Dr. Pilila, the current head of the Ilula hospital. Our top priority from the start was finding a map of the town, the hospital, and the existing piping system in each.

After a few obstacles, we finally got a block diagram of the community water supply; however, the map stopped short of the hospital.

With the daylight we had left, we were given a tour of the hospital layout, and then called it a night. For sleeping arrangements, three of us stayed at Dr. Saga's house, two of us at the pastor's house, and two of us with a villager named Eda.

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The next day, we went back to work. Our guide to the existing water system was a man named Habakuk. Habakuk is a fundi bomba (Swahili for "plumbing handyman").

There are no existing maps of the piping system, so we relied on Habakuk's knowledge to create a map from scratch and overlay it onto a map of the hospital, which we also created.

We learned that Ilula got their water from three sources: community water from a local river, well water from a submersible pump in the valley, and rain water from a catchment system. The layout for the use of these three sources was quite extensive, and we spent most of our time in the village trying to understand it.

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As we learned more about Ilula, it became apparent that there are three main problems with the existing system.

First, there is a lack of water pressure in the system, and some hospital buildings do not have water as a result. The current fix for this is cutting off water to other buildings in order to build up pressure, which is not an ideal solution.

The second problem is a nursing school on the hospital grounds that does not yet have any water supply to the buildings.

The final problem is the separation of hard, soft, and clean water. The water from the well was thought to be salty and would rust equipment and stain clothes. However, our test results indicated that the soft water from the river was actually contaminated with bacteria and not very sanitary to use for cleaning.

The data and maps we created during our stay will be analyzed to help us work toward a solution to these problems.

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On our final day in Ilula we attended the local church. During the service, Dr. Saga introduced us to the congregation. We sang two songs in a mix of Swahili and English for our audience, to which they responded with applause and cheers.

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After the warm sendoff from the church, we headed back to Iringa, where we will sit down and try to understand the best solution to the water issues in Ilula. The work isn't done yet!

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