Hello, my name is Julius Breuer, I am 26 years old and I have lived in Darmstadt now for 6 years. There I study Master of Mechanical and Computational Engineering at the Technical University. I rather coincidentally found my way to “Engineers without Borders” via a project of the university and joined the project SoWaDi with enthusiasm: In contrast to my studies, I was able to deal with technical questions in a very practical way. I was able to share this motivation with many others. Together we have learned to approach emerging problems. In the process friendships have developed which I would not want to miss anymore.
In the beginning I took over the evaluation of measurement data at SoWaDi. In order to further improve the evaluation, we decided to build a test facility with measuring instruments. This way we would like to learn how to further optimize the plant. Today it is located at the Lichtwiese in Darmstadt. Since the conditions here are not the same as those where the systems will serve their purpose in the future, this is also a major goal of our current departure: We would like to equip further solar water disinfection plants with measuring instruments for data acquisition on site, in order to create a basis on which we can build in the future.
When planning our departure to Tanzania, a problem became apparent: Unfortunately, we were not able to make good use of the experiences gained during our visit in 2017 and build on them. With the fluctuation of those involved at that time, a lot of knowledge was also lost. We are therefore developing various strategies for knowledge management. One of the tools we are using is a kind of project wiki. But personal contact should not be underestimated when passing on knowledge. So it was also our good luck that Kasimir told us in detail about his experiences, the country and the culture before leaving and answered our questions. In the end, this also increased our anticipation of a journey that would bring new experiences, impressions and perspectives.
We are now at the end of our journey. If we want to stick to our goals, there should be no problems that cost us time, because there are only 10 days left. Although we have almost finished the construction, we still want to connect the different plant supervisors* so that they can support each other and develop a network that ensures the maintenance of the plants on site. We also want to strengthen the contact from Germany and thus contribute to the long-term preservation of the project. In this respect the week was very successful. Like the others last time, I would like to tell you about our last week in the following:
On Monday we were able to start the week successfully with a user training for the fourth plant. On Tuesday, Sam from KCF and I set off for Rombo, while Edgar enjoyed his last full day in Moshi before leaving for Germany on Wednesday. In the Rombo region, Sam and I visited the Mamtukuna Folk Development College, which could become a future project partner, as they have all relevant aspects for the construction of the plant. However, there is a lot of rebuilding going on there at the moment, so the location was not yet available for the current departure. Afterwards I met a contact person of a project of the Regional Group (RG) Cologne in Mashati. We had got to know the project of the RG Cologne in advance during an association-wide exchange of experience on the topic of “water, sanitation and hygiene” and found out that we are active in the same project region. Their project is the construction of a large rainwater cistern at a school. This is to improve the water situation at Maki Secondary School. Also the RG Köln was missing important data. Therefore, we interviewed a stone supplier, visited a reference project and surveyed the area for the new facility in terms of building heights and gradients. We also benefit from the cooperation in the region: Through them, we have found our partner organisation KCF and are able to take on smaller tasks for each other before leaving the region.
On Thursday I drove back to Kidia, where Rebecca, Jonas and I worked with the construction team on the penultimate plant. They had been working on it since Monday and for the first time during this trip they bent the sheets for the absorber themselves. This worked very well with the help of a self-made sheet metal bending device built according to the operating instructions. But there was no time to take a rest, so after the completion of the fifth plant we immediately brought all the necessary materials to the sixth location, in order to start building the last plant on Monday.
The week ended on Sunday in Kidia in the church. There we were invited to the church service and could present our project to the church community afterwards. We talked about the relevance of safe water. Afterwards we were able to answer the invitation and invite those present to visit one of the plants and ask further questions.
Looking back on the week, I ask myself more and more: How can we ensure that the newly built solar water disinfection plants function as long as possible, that knowledge about their construction, use and maintenance is preserved and disseminated? The sustainability of our work is of particular concern to me, and the experience I have gained allows me to reflect more critically on development cooperation than before. I must also always keep a critical eye on my own actions. Cooperation is often not as easy as I thought in advance and we have to improvise a lot in order to achieve common goals. Before we left, for example, I didn’t expect language to be as big a barrier as it actually is, since many of our project partners* here hardly speak any English and I don’t speak Swahili.
I am curious about the next few days and excitedly await the test phase of the six plants that have been erected. Many greetings from Kidia, yours, Julius.