Access to water is a critical issue in the Longido District of Tanzania. The Sprott School of Business and the Carleton Faculty of Engineering and Design are partners in a unique interdisciplinary learning experience in which students have hands-on experience in the region to address this complex social problem. Students have been working collaboratively to design innovative and economically viable water harvesting technologies that will reduce the demands placed on women and children to collect scarce water, while also creating an income generating operation that supports the local economy.
In 2015, students from Business, Environmental Engineering and Industrial Design traveled to Longido District to research the problem of water harvesting and storage and propose local solutions. Students worked on the ground with community residents in multiple villages, in collaboration with Project Tembo, a Canadian NGO that focuses on local social issues.
During the following two years, student projects have expanded to include solid waste management, brickmaking, children’s recreational equipment, weather data collection, and a community garden.
In December/January 2018/19, students from the Sprott School of Business and those in Sprott’s joint projects with the School of Industrial Design and the Food Sciences and Nutrition Department will visit Longido village to test prototype solutions that will help address some of these problems. The students will have the opportunity to live in the local context, with the logistical support of Project Tembo, a Canadian NGO that raises awareness and addresses education and gender issues in the community.
The challenging climate of the Longido District in Tanzania contributes to a chronic water shortage. Longido District lies just north of Arusha and west of the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, in the heart of the Maasai culture. This region has a dry savanna climate. The district experiences extended periods of severe drought alternating with heavy seasonal rains that cause excessive flooding. Villagers have almost no means to capture rainwater for community use, resulting in a chronic water shortage. Because of this water shortage, there is very little production of food crops, resulting in high levels of food insecurity. The region is in critical need of sustainable water harvesting and storage solutions.
Women are solely responsible for collecting water, many of them walking distances of up to two kilometers or more to access water. Many villagers access water from stagnant sources, which presents significant health risks.
Carleton students have been working on the ground with community residents to design and deploy innovative solutions that will allow residents to capture and conserve rainfall runoff, to treat water, to record weather data, and build a community garden that will serve as locally run educational and demonstration site for household food crops. Students have been designing financially sustainable solutions, using locally available materials and technologies.
Student projects will be chosen for implementation based on their feasibility, sustainability, effectiveness, and level of local participation and ownership. Students will travel to Longido to physically install the solutions at a demonstration “water lab” on the Tembo grounds, a geographic and social center of Longido village.
Funds have been acquired for the materials and associated cost of the physical installation of the projects, but there is currently a need to fund the cost of student participation in this phase.
The funds raised will be used to support the project in Tanzania, including:
- 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 local residents
- Materials for model and prototype generation
All funding will contribute to creating sustainable and feasible projects that we hope will outlast our time in Tanzania and inspire others to play a role in addressing this critical issue.
While the community of Longido will directly benefit from our water sustainability efforts, Carleton students will also benefit from this great opportunity because of the unique experiential experience this project offers. Students will be able to meet community officials, learn about the village and culture of Longido, and present our clean water solutions. This project will allow us to excel not only in the classroom, but to gain experience solving real-world problems and learning about the developing world firsthand.