From Buckets to Rain Barrels is an interdisciplinary initiative that tackles various issues in the predominantly Maasai district of Longido, Tanzania. Industrial Design and Business Students participating in this project address these issues by creating sustainable solutions that can be manufactured and implemented locally. Students conduct fieldwork on site over the winter break, in which solution prototypes are evaluated by the local community, and students use resulting feedback to further refine the students’ solutions. Evaluation criteria for the projects include cultural appropriateness, environmental and social sustainability, and overall affordability. In addition to having a potential positive impact on the community, the team of students will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and skills development while exercising their knowledge and creativity outside the classroom.

The Background

The Buckets to Rain Barrels project began in 2015, when a team of Business, Engineering, and Industrial Design students traveled to Tanzania in the context of a multidisciplinary course project. At the time, the project was focused on water, which is a pressing problem in the region. Over time, the project has evolved and expanded, and students have worked on issues that include agriculture, microfinance, waste management, play infrastructure, micro irrigation systems, and more.

Carleton students will be working on the ground with community residents to design and deploy innovative solutions to various problems. They have been designing financially sustainable solutions in which community members would be employed in the production, distribution, and maintenance of the design, using locally available materials and technologies. The most promising student projects are selected to go forward in the Longido region, based on feasibility, sustainability, effectiveness, and level of local participation and ownership.

Funds have been acquired for some materials and associated costs of the projects, but there is currently a need to fund the cost of student participation.

The Rollout

The money raised will benefit each student in the class as it will help fund their participation in this project. This will allow the students to travel to the site in Tanzania in order to work one-on-one with the Maasai people, and to get meaningful insights into their culture and lives. We need roughly $32,000 to support 21 students embarking on their journey to Tanzania.

In the fall, students form interdisciplinary teams and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. They travel to Tanzania for 2 weeks over the winter break to engage with Maasai communities in the Longido district and assist in the creation of viable solutions to real life problems. In the fall semester, implementation plans and designs are created and critiqued by professors and other students to determine if the ideas are suitable for the needs of the people in Tanzania.

While in Tanzania, students introduce their prototypes to the local communities.  They then take the feedback they receive and use it to assess and refine their solutions. Prototypes must be constructed using materials available in Tanzania. They must be able to be maintained locally thereafter, which presents many challenges. Projects are focused on cultural appropriateness, affordability, and environmental and social sustainability.

Students are currently building on previous work, improving the design, technical aspects, and economic sustainability of project in progress, as well as tackling new issues. The objective of this program is to provide solutions that make a significant long-term difference for the local communities, rather than just create positive headlines.

The Impact

Funds raised will be used to support the project in Tanzania. These funds will include:

  • Student travel to and lodging in Longido
  • Involvement of community residents and local students
  • Rental of meeting space in the local villages for project team meetings, translators and cultural brokers to support interaction with the local community
  • Complement funds available for purchase and transport of local materials for product construction, as well as to acquire the necessary materials for model and prototype generation.

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