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Water Access To Empower Rural (WATER) Tanzania

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The Challenge: Access to Water

The World Health Organization (WHO) states it is a human right to have access to sufficient, safe water within one kilometer of the home (WHO, 2015b). However, 1.6 billion people experience economic water shortage and struggle to secure water for personal and domestic use (UN-Water & FAO, 2007). In the village of Endallah, Tanzania, seasonal rainfalls, high rates of evaporation, and inadequate water harvesting infrastructure leave many of the approximately 900 households facing economic water shortage. Around 90% of villagers depend on rain-fed subsistence farming; however, annual crop yields are not consistent due to sporadic rainfall. The purpose of this research was to quantify water use, access, and needs in the village of Endallah to inform the design of a sustainable, community-based water harvesting system. In January 2015, a Purdue University Global Development Team traveled to Endallah to survey 25 households on their water collection and use. The results from the 12-question survey were coded, analyzed, and interpreted. The survey showed a significant need to improve water access in Endallah. Based on the survey results, most people in Endallah spend over three hours a day collecting water for domestic use. Water needs in Endallah have not been previously quantified, so the results will be crucial to the development of an accessible, community-based water harvesting system. Ultimately, by decreasing economic water shortage, the people of Endallah will have greater access to water for domestic consumption and can move toward using water to improve livestock health and agricultural productivity.

Many areas in Tanzania face economic water scarcity, or a lack of infrastructure to provision sufficient, accessible, affordable water. Tanzania also experiences bimodal rainy seasons that can lead to limited water supplies during dry seasons. In rural areas, inconsistent rainfall patterns can threaten livelihoods as many people rely on rain-fed agriculture. WATER Tanzania is focused on working with rural Tanzanian communities and local partners to improve water access by developing sustainable, community-based water harvesting systems.

The Purdue Innovation: Water Access to Empower Rural Tanzania

WATER Tanzania is a Global Development Team (GDT) established in 2014 by the Purdue University Global Engineering Program. The team works with partners at the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) to address interdisciplinary water challenges in the 5,800 person village of Endallah, Tanzania. Located on the west side of Lake Manyara in the northern Tanzania, Endallah faces economic water scarcity, a lack of infrastructure to safe, sufficient, affordable water. The specific objectives of WATER Tanzania are to: (1) develop a sustainable, community-based water harvesting system, and (2) engage the community and stakeholders in participatory design.

Two team members traveled to Endallah in June 2015 with funding from the Hydrologists Helping Others (H2O) grant. During their visit, two sites were identified as having bedrock conditions favorable for sand dams and more detailed stream cross-sections and soil textures were taken at these points to help calculate potential water storage capacities for a dam at each site. Two potential sites for future solar pump installation were also surveyed. The team attended a community meeting to give updates on the project, learned more about current community water management through daily interactions with villagers, and were able to take village leaders to visit a sand dam and solar pump sites in neighboring villages. Data and information collected during this trip are necessary for the next steps of the project.

The team is currently in the process of developing a SWAT model for the area based on a 30 meter digital elevation model (DEM) and land cover data. The team will also model the potential impacts of a dam on the ephemeral rivers using HEC-RAS. Using results from these models and information from a literature review conducted on sand dams in 2014, the team will outline sand dam designs for the community.

After discussing and finalizing initial design criteria, the team has begun work on a prototype hydraulic ram (or hydram) pump.  Hydram pumps operate solely by the force of gravity, allowing water to be pumped over large distances with no external energy input required.  The goal of the hydram pump for Endallah will be to pump water from a nearby spring to the village to create a continuous, reliable source of water.

The Partners:

Purdue University, Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science & Technology (Tanzania)

Venkatesh Merwade, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering,

Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science & Technology (Tanzania)