Water is life. A source of clean water is essential to the survival of any community. Clean water is crucial to proper sanitation, hygiene and sustainment of life. Until recently, some communities across Tanzania lacked any reliable source of this essential element.
Through U.S. Africa Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program and support from Naval Facilities Command and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa country engineer, U.S. Navy Lt. Timothy Palik, four communities have received water catchments, which are being constructed or have been completed, to provide nearly 20,000 local residents with clean, drinkable water.
“Across these four project locations, under the one contract, we’ve provided 74 thousand liters of usable water for the schools and dispensaries,” said Palik. “This is a very simple, high-impact project. We install gutters; we install tanks on a concrete pad and let nature do the rest.”
The four project sites that will be receiving water catchments are:
Boma dispensary - Boma dispensary has received repairs to the roof and facility deterioration and the installation of the rainwater harvesting system with two 5,000 liter Simulated on Thermal Energy Storage (SIM) water tanks. Boma dispensary serves 3,567 people in the surrounding villages of Boma Subutini, Boma Ndani and Kichaka Miba.
Gombero dispensary - The project included the installation of a new roof system, exterior and interior renovation of the dispensary, installation of two 7,000 liter SIM water tanks and catchment system to include concrete pads for tanks, valve, locks, and dedication plaque.
Ndaoya School - Contractors are installing SIM rainwater catchment tanks around the school while the structure of the building is being refurbished, to include screen repair and backfill around the entire school where soil has eroded away from the foundation.
Manza Bay Secondary School - Successful completion of this project will allow Mkinga District to provide essential services to its population, thereby strengthening popular support of local and district government. This reinforces regional stability and security. The direct beneficiaries are students, teachers, and the local residents. There is a very high risk for contamination by water borne diseases so this facility provides a clean water source to mitigate diseases.
According to Palik, the water catchments at the dispensaries are an important source of capabilities that offer a value to the communities and villages.
“Hospitals are few and far between, so these dispensaries offer a strategic value for the local villagers and citizens around the area as a means by which to get healthcare and learn about healthcare,” said Palik. “This dispensary and the schools did not have any water catchments on site, so we are bringing them this capability so they can serve themselves.”
The dispensaries use the new water to provide a cleaner medical environment than in the past and allow the capability to share water with the local community when the tanks are completely full at the Gombero Dispensary.
“About this project, I feel very well, me and all my staff at this dispensary. Because of this project, I’ll help all of the people who come to this dispensary about cleanliness and sterilization,” said Mariam Msanga, Gombero Dispensary clinical officer. “This tank is very good to help. And sometimes when this tank is full, we can help other villages. We can give too.”
Overall, the water catchment facilities build a lasting partnership by way of providing a need to the communities between the U.S. and Tanzania that is invaluable in the eyes of the villagers and communities. These sources of fresh clean water are renewable, giving life and providing a necessary resource to the communities in Tanzania.
“Everything starts with water. It is the one thing that humans cannot live without. So the ability to provide this capability to the people is invaluable,” Palik said. “This water is potable; they can drink it, they can use it to clean, they can use it for medical treatment, and it provides them life.”