Charlie 4 – Secondary Project

1st December 2013

C4 CM Q7 12

Much of the Western world will find it hard to understand the inconvenience of being unable to simply turn a tap on and safely drink water – this ‘inconvenience’ the whole of Tanzania must deal with on a daily basis.  We, the Charlie 4 group, are quite lucky in that all we must do is collect water and put a tiny tablet into it and…as if my magic, it is safe to drink.  This is not the case for the communities in which we work, along with the majority of this country.  Many people do not treat their water prior to drinking it, particularly in rural areas where education regarding water-borne diseases is still at a minimum. 

 C4 CM Q7 12

The extent of the problem with water in Nkonkilangi was highlighted in our action research.  76% of people we spoke to go to the river every day to collect water (water is collected from the river due to the salt content of the water from the tap), a trip which takes over an hour.  Imagine taking this trip 4 times per day and then having to boil it – a task which would take approximately 2hrs for an average sized family to have 4L of drinking water each.  How many of you reading this would do this every day?  Where would you find the time to go to work? To go to school?  To socialise?  We found that across two villages only 38% of people treated their water and many did not understand its importance.  Time and cost played a huge part in their choice not to treat their drinking water. 

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After much debate and discussion Charlie 4 believed we could make changes to the way the community understood and carried out the treatment of water, this was to be done through a little invention called a rocket stove.  We managed to recruit a huge help in this project – Swalehe.  He had previously worked with Raleigh, carrying out a project on rocket stoves.  His project had been very successful and the community in which he worked appreciated his hard work and passion.  Who would have thought that a few bricks, a bag of ash, a mound of soil and a whole load of cow poo could potentially change the life of a whole community?  Rocket stoves are a simple yet fabulous invention that allows water to be boiled quickly saving huge amounts of time and money (remember time and money were huge factors in why the community did not boil their water in the first place). 

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A rocket stove

As a group we aimed to build 15 demonstration rocket stoves in one week with the intention being that people would watch, listen and learn and then go and build their own - we are well on our way to meeting those aims.  So far we have built 17 rocket stoves, we have taught those watching how to build them, we have provided our audiences with an insight on the importance of boiling water and made manuals to give out to the community for those who have been unable to make it to one of our demonstrations.  

We have also hosted two very successful events which have been a truly inspiring experience for everyone in Charlie 4.  The first event was held at the church by Rachel, Josephat, Mike, Corrin, Joseph and Pendo.  Twenty eager to learn women turned up for the demonstration, a huge amount of questions were asked and a huge amount were answered, underlining the importance of the reduction of waterborne disease. 

The second event, hosted by Kim, Freddie, Katie, Judith, Wes and Swalehe, was a fantastic day for all involved.  We began the day with chai (tea) and a chat, provoking discussion on health and hygiene.  We then brought our 3 washing up bowls out and showed the women the safest way to wash their pans and utensils (wash, rinse and bleach!).  The women were then able to get up and wash the cups they had just drank from using this method – they managed to grasp the process better than some of us had.  Charlie 4 then announced to the women that we would be making mandazis (Tanzanian-style doughnuts) on our camp rocket stove, but before we started we obviously had to wash our hands.  Demonstrations on the correct hand washing technique were shown to all the women and they then got up and used the camp tippy taps.  They were amazingly responsive!  We all then got to work on the mandazis; the women obviously took over and we were sent to the shops for forgotten ingredients!  Whilst we were waiting for the yeast to rise some of our team took part in a short drama illustrating the importance of everything we had covered so far – they loved it!  After the women had finished cooking they informed us they had a little something to show us – they had, in 15 minutes planned their own drama!  Some of the women got up to re-enact how they would go about persuading the rest of the community to get involved with carrying out the simple yet effective techniques – we were all so surprised at how much they had listened!

After much suspense surrounding the little invention they had been cooking on all afternoon we went on to explain what it was and its advantages.  They were all very intrigued and all proceeded to attend one of our rocket stove demonstrations at the assistant chairman’s house.  We ended the day eating mandazis with our new friends – everyone in Charlie 4 felt that we had had a breakthrough!  With our short-term goals currently in motion we all started to consider what our long-term goals are – what effect we want these rocket stoves to have on the community we have all come to love.  We spoke of how we wished to see the community building their own once the manuals had been distributed and for words to be spread on their efficiency.  Hopefully more people will begin boiling their water when they see that time and cost are no longer a substantial issue and with this would come the reduction of water borne diseases, allowing more children to be in school and less people taking time out of work.  We also considered the desired effects on the environment – with less firewood needed fever trees will need to be cut down.  To test all of the above Charlie 4 has decided to put our money where our mouths are and go without gas for one whole week by using our lovely rocket stove to cook all of our food!  We are looking forward to a week of early starts collecting firewood and late nights waiting for dinner. 

Despite being covered in cow poo for 6 days we in Charlie 4 are feeling very motivated and inspired.  Our secondary project has been an amazing experience and we hope the people of Nkonkilangi carry on our great work.