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Conducting a health assessment in Isanjandugu, Tanzania

Far from the offices of EarthDesk — our water cooler, lavatories, and coffee maker — the villagers of Isanjandugu, Tanzania rely on ditches and holes, fed by an erratic, six-month rainy season, for drinking water. With assistance from Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, the Northern New Jersey Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB/NNJ) has launched a project to help the village develop a reliable clean water supply.

A volunteer “Travel Team” from EWB/NNJ is currently on an assessment trip in Isanjandugu to:

– Align expectations for the project and to build a relationship with the Isanjandugu community that is based on a mutual understanding of the community’s needs.

– Collect the raw data that will be necessary to evaluate the feasibility of potential solutions to the community’s lack of clean water.

Pace students, Pleasantville, NY

Last April 20, Pace Academy’s Walk for World Water mobilized 120 students and faculty who walked one mile with buckets of water atop their heads in solidarity with people in Tanzania and elsewhere who routinely rely on such methods as a substitute for a real water supply. The Walk generated $5,000 to support the Isanjandugu project. (EarthDesk, June 13).

According to EWB/NNJ:

The total annual rainfall in the area is only 624 millimeters [24.6 inches] and most of this only occurs in the rainy season from November to April. There are no existing wells in the village. Villagers often travel the 6 kilometer [3.7 mile] round trip, up and down a steep hill to Sarnda village to obtain water.

Women villagers, Isanjandugu, Tanzania

Central tasks of the Isanjandugu Travel Team include conducting a health assessment, and evaluating water sources and quality. You can visit the Team’s blog:  Here is a recent excerpt:

It seems that the population of Isanjandugu turns out to be closer to 1,500 individuals. Living in less than 200 homes. But the area covered by the village is at least 25 square miles. So everything in very spread out. That means that finding a solution to the water problem becomes more complicated. How to assure everyone reasonable access to a clean supply? Will one well be sufficient? Is a well the best alternative?

We have found many active water holes in our explorations of the village. The water that the people are using for potable uses looks milky. Is it really safe? We’ll no more when we get the results back from water samples that we collected last Saturday. I wonder if the use of simple clay pot filters is part of the answer to providing clean water? We shall see. I think that we’ll want to assemble the entire water team when we get home to brainstorm this.

The villagers are proud, happy people who have welcomed us into their community with open arms and warm smiles. They live a very simple life style. Homes vary from twig huts to mud block rooms to cinder block homes. There is no electricity, no sanitary facilities and no running water. Most villagers are farmers or livestock herders. Dust is everywhere. The soil is poor and blows away in the wind. And yet the people have found a way to get by. We must find ways to help them.

We will post a further update and additional images soon. You can learn more about the Northern New Jersey Chapter of EWB here: