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.
From December 2017 to January 2018, students from Business, Environmental Engineering, and Industrial Design will travel to Longido District to research the problem of water harvesting and storage and propose local solutions. Students will work on the ground with community residents in multiple villages, in collaboration with Project Tembo, a Canadian NGO that focuses on local social issues.
Throughout the school year, student teams have been working collaboratively on refining their solutions to the problem, building business plans, and calculating social returns.
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 villagers to capture and conserve rainfall runoff, as well as access it in an efficient manner. They have been designing financially sustainable solutions whereby community residents would be employed in ongoing production and distribution, using locally available materials and technologies.
The most promising student projects will soon be chosen for implementation in the Longido region, based on 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.
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 villagers
• 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.