World Water Day: We’re 5 Steps Closer to Clean Water at Njiro!

[We’re grateful to our talented volunteer, Tom Turner, for producing the above video describing the work accomplished at Pangaro and the hope for Njiro!]

It’s World Water Day and we have so much to celebrate! We’re sharing our progress at Njiro where a clean water solution for 1,700 people is under way!

Step 1: Identify the Need. After completing a successful well project in the village of Pangaro serving 1,200 people, Empower Tanzania staff identified the next village to empower: Njiro. (To learn about the whole scope of the project, click HERE.) Our staff on the ground in Tanzania collected information by consulting their network of people, other NGOs, and  government officials to identify the dire need at Njiro.

The people of Njiro have been walking by a broken well for the past seven years. Soon, it will be repaired and providing water for the 1,700 people of the village. Pictured here are Njiro public primary school children who are looking forward to safe and clean water in their village and school.

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Water is Life (World Water Day 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The  men and women we work with in Tanzania often tell us that “WATER IS LIFE.” They say this with a seriousness that is sometimes difficult for Westerners to comprehend due to our oft-taken-for-granted infrastructure. “MAJI NI UHAI,” one of our program managers, farmers, educators, or students might exclaim in Swahili. WATER IS LIFE. Too many Tanzanian women and children walk miles upon miles—spending a good portion of their day that could be devoted to work or school—collecting water that may or may not be clean. We take this challenge seriously and work hard to find sustainable solutions to this very basic human need at every level of our programming. Here’s a glimpse of what it all entails:

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Reaching for Water

Read here to learn about EMPOWER TANZANIA’S plans to bring clean water within the reach of thousands of rural Tanzanians…

by Sheri Krumm, Empower Tanzania Board Member and Clean Water Advocate

waterLKThe Reaching for Water Program was inspired in 2009 by a visit to the people of Katahe, a small Maasai village near the Pangani River in the Same District of northeast Tanzania. Katahe is a sub-village of Hedaru where Empower Tanzania had begun working on a water project. During our time in this village, we grew to know and love the strong, resilient people of the desert. Continue reading

Water is LIFE

The village of Katahe understands the saying "Water is Life" more than most.

The village of Katahe understands the saying “Water is Life” more than most.

In the remote village of Katahe, in the NE part of Tanzania, everyone understands what this means.  The village is in a semi-arid area, and inhabited by both Maasai tribe, and Pare tribe. Continue reading

Why Do I Work on Water?

My name is Sheri, and I am known as Mama Maji (mama water) in the Kilimanjaro Region of NE Tanzania, because I have a passion for water projects.  I’m shameless in my requests to anyone who will listen, to help fund Empower Tanzania’s water projects. If I’ve never asked you for money, it’s only because I haven’t had a chance yet!

Finding funding to finance water projects is not easy.  Questions like ”who will take care of maintenance?” and “can’t you add more to it, like an agriculture project, to make it worth the investment?” are valid, and I do think about those questions a lot.  However, they completely miss the reason I do this work.

Safe water is a basic human need.

Two years ago, on my way home from visiting several project sites out in the bush in rural Tanzania, the group I was traveling with decided to stop at what appeared to be a random little village housing area.  We had just had a great day with a lot accomplished and much laughing and singing.  It was almost dark, and this stop wasn’t on the schedule.

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I asked why we were stopping. They hesitated a little, and then said that a young girl had died, and we needed to visit the family. In Tanzania, it is hot, and bodies are not embalmed.  If you die on Monday, the visitation is Monday night and the funeral is Tuesday.  Most people die in their homes, and it is cultural for everyone to drop everything to go visit the family.  So we did.

The little girl was two, and she had died of diarrhea.  Somehow, she got hold of some un-boiled water, and was thirsty, so she took a drink.  That’s what 2-year olds do.  Her mother didn’t know how to treat it, so 24 hours later, she was sitting on the bed in the bedroom, wailing over the loss of her baby, surrounded by a village full of people who completely understood.  This is not uncommon.

I tried to imagine what my life would have been if my children had faced this kind of danger on a daily basis; if all our children in the U.S. faced this kind of daily danger. 

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-Would it be a national emergency?
-Would it affect how much I allow myself to dream about my child’s future?
-Would I be able to love my child freely, knowing he could be snatched away at any moment?

I didn’t know this woman, or this child, but I held her hand and I cried.  I cried because of the ridiculousness of it all, and because I couldn’t imagine that I would be strong enough to do what these people do every day.

And then I committed, one more time, to keep working on finding clean water for these people, and teaching them to respond to waterborne disease when it strikes.  I do it, because that girl has a sister, and that sister doesn’t need to die.

New Water Project!

ETI is excited to announce that we recently signed an agreement to do a water project with a new partner, Rewerts Well Company, Inc., in Nevada, Iowa!  The owner of the company, Justin Rewerts, will be leading the Well Rehabilitation Project which locates and fixes wells that are in disrepair in the Mwanga and Same Districts of Tanzania.

Justin first came to ETI staff to discuss another completely unrelated water project being done by a church in Iowa with their companion parish in Tanzania.  Through that conversation, we discovered that he had a real passion to work on repairing wells.  In January of 2012, Justin went with an ETI delegation to Tanzania to see first-hand what that kind of work would involve.

Part of every first-timer’s experience is a Safari to see Tanzania’s natural wildlife.  Yes, those are lions over his shoulder, walking away after visiting the Land Cruiser!

After 2 weeks on the ground, much time spent with District government officials talking about the problem and visiting sites, and even some hands-on time trying to do some minor repair work, Justin was hooked!  There clearly was a need for his services, and the cost of repairing old wells was obviously going to be dramatically less than digging new ones.  Justin felt that he could help, even with the wells that could not be restored.  “They need to be cemented shut to protect the ground water from contamination,” stated Rewerts, “so I’ll buy the cement to close them up if the local people will just donate the sand and help with the labor.”

Justin (left) and some local Maasai men examining a non-working well.

Fifteen non-functioning wells have been identified by the local Same and Mwanga District officials, so Justin has volunteered equipment to take over, including a camera he can lower into the wells to get a more accurate picture of their condition, and he has recruited a colleague to go help.  They will go to Tanzania in January of 2013 to spend 2 weeks working on repairing or closing the 15 wells.

Talk about a big impact for a small amount of money!

If you would like to donate to this project, and help fund the repair of these wells, click here, or go to our “donate” tab, and make an online donation today!  Every gift, no matter how large or small, brings us closer to providing clean water for the people of Tanzania.

Gunge Safi Update

The very rural village of Gunge has been waiting a long time for water.

Gunge village, NE Tanzania

Since the 1930’s.

During WWII, the German army “drafted” Tanzanians to fight the British, and many of the Tanzanian men in this area were forced into service.  One small group escaped with their families one night and fled into the desert…settling in the place now called Gunge.  Later, it became a place for refugees from many parts of Africa to settle, and has been a tight-knit community ever since.

Gunge is located near the Pangani River, so the people of the village have dug many miles of  irrigation canal, and created an 800-acre field which they share as a community to grow food.  Unfortunately, the intake into their irrigation canal is under constant attack by not only flood waters during the rainy season, but also the resident hippos and crocodiles moving around at night.

 

 

The intake at Gunge, soon to be rehabilitated

In ETI’s newest water project, called the Gunge Safi Project, the intake will be reconstructed with gabion stones in wire mesh baskets to shore up the bank, and improve the flow of water to the fields.  In a recent visit by board member Sheri Krumm, final plans were made with the village leadership, a contractor was hired, and everyone agreed on that a contract will be signed in July, and work will begin as soon as possible.

Gunge village chairman

 

Once the water is flowing to the fields, the next step will be to bring drinking water to the village, either by well or via pipes and pumps from the river.  This will be the first time since the formation of the village that there will be fresh water for household use and human consumption less than a mile from the village, and accessible without danger of crocodile attacks.

We continue to fund-raise for this project, so if you are inspired, go to the Donate page, and help us any way you can.  Your generous support is what makes projects like this possible.