Despite the lockdown: the work continues

Hello everyone!  

Our departing people are back in Germany for a month now. During this time a lot has happened and we would like to give you a small update about our current work as well as the situation in Tanzania and in Darmstadt with this blog entry.  

Our current work:

Recommissioning of our first test unit on the Lichtwiese in Darmstadt.

Immediately after the return of Rebecca, Jonas and Julius from Tanzania, the follow-up of the departure started. This includes not only the viewing of pictures, notes, etc., but also constant communication with our project partner, the Kilimanjaro Childlight Foundation (KCF), and the users of the units. Furthermore, the costs of the individual units are estimated and the interviews with the people on site are evaluated. 

We have established a support group that maintains contact with Tanzania to collect feedback and the recording of the weekly sent measurement data to maintain contact with Tanzania. The measurement data collected in this way includes the daily water output of the 6 plants as well as information on the weather. These weather data can be compared with the data of an online database in the future and allow a more detailed analysis of the output data. 

During the departure, minor design changes were also made to the unit, which are now being discussed in the Performance Issues Theme Group and included in the assembly instructions by the Instruction Group. Our goal is to include major design changes in the planned setup of the second test unit here in Darmstadt. 

A special focus is currently on measurement technology. Within the scope of an Advanced Design Project (ADP), 5 students are working on a robust, inexpensive and easy-to-implement measurement electronics, which will be installed in our second test unit in summer. At the same time, scales for characterizing the performance of the system are to be determined. The ADP tendered for this purpose is supervised by the Institute for Technical Thermodynamics at the TU Darmstadt. 

Effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on our work:

The water is drained off at the covered TZ01 unit at Malage VTC.

Of course, the COVID 19 pandemic has a major impact on our work. In this blog entry we would like to give you a short insight into the situation in Tanzania. For this purpose, we have received insights into the current life in Tanzania from Ichikael, our contact person at KCF, and Gasiano, the headmaster of the Malage Vocational Training Center, where the departure team has put the two units of 2017 back into operation this year, which we would like to present to you here briefly.

Ichikael (Communication on the 1st of april):  

Ichikael has a son and also takes care of her nephew. Both of them have to stay at home right now because the schools in Tanzania are closed. She takes over the work of the teachers – unfortunately, the two little ones want to go back to school despite all her efforts. Currently the question arises whether the exams should also be written at home.  

Other facilities such as markets and churches are still open, but mass events have been cancelled. People who do not take the situation seriously are particularly problematic. Many do not particularly restrict their public life, hygienic protective measures, such as washing their hands, are often not taken. 

Although comparatively few people are in quarantine in Tanzania, the tension is still noticeable. The infection figures from Europe are being followed with great concern. 

Gasiano (Communication on the 25th of march):  

The TZ03 unit at Kidia Primary School is also covered.

Gasiano describes the current situation as difficult. It is a pity that his school is closed to students; neverless he sees the situation positvely because of the still low infection figures. The teachers at his school continue to carry out their duties, such as maintaining the school or cultivating the school gardens. The government’s school closures are expected to continue until 17 April and will be closely monitored. If a school opens despite the governments‘ orders, the headmaster risks a permanent closure of the institution.  

Gasiano has five children. His daughter is studying in Xi’an, China and came back to Tanzania in February because of COVID-19. The family is happy that she is at home and everyone is healthy. Through various news channels they are informed about the situation in other countries. Especially the situation in Italy is followed with great concern.  

We are very happy that all users and contributors in Tanzania are doing well according to the circumstances. Although public life is partly restricted, this is the only way to slow down the spread of the virus. The constant contact with the users on site is especially important in these times!  

As some of our units are located on school grounds, some of them have been put into standby mode. For this purpose, the absorber box is covered with a plastic sheet that is impervious to light so that no components are heated by the sun. At the moment three of the plants are in this state. The remaining systems are still in use and measurement data is sent to the support group on a weekly basis.  

Of course, the way of working within the project group has also changed over the last few weeks. Since everyone works in his home office, alternatives for meetings and project group meetings had to be found. For our meetings every second Tuesday we use a program for voice conferences. There is a lot of communication via social media and lectures can be presented via a special website.  

In spite of all the technical helpers, we are looking forward to hours together again reunited in the university group house!  

Stay healthy and until then:  

Kukaa na afya na mpaka wakati huo!  

Behind the Scenes – A Report from the Back Office

Of course the project group did not stop to meet in Germany during the time, Jonas, Julias, Rebecca and Edgar were abroad. Besides back office tasks, we also continued with project work.
That’s me, Sara Konrad.

Hello, I’m Sara Konrad. At the end of this year’s journey, I’ll share a different perspective from the back office. The back office has actively supported the outgoers from a distance, but has also maintained the normal project operations in Darmstadt. 

I am 25 years old and am studying Mechanical Engineering and Energy Science and Engineering. Already since 2015 I have been working for Ingenieure ohne Grenzen in Darmstadt, but I started working for SoWaDi only two years later.

For a long time I was exclusively involved in the organisational work of the whole regional group, wrote newsletters, organised teambuilding events and coordinated the working media of the regional group. It was personally important to me to be involved in development cooperation. However, after two years, during which I was purely involved in organisational work, I wanted to get into a project and decided to join SoWaDi. Especially in the project SoWaDi it is very well possible to enable many people to have a better life situation by improving the water supply.  In SoWaDi I had the feeling to be able to use my knowledge from my studies in the best possible way.

At the beginning of my project work the outgoing team of 2017 had already been back from Tanzania for a few months and the phase of follow-up work was in full swing, so that plant optimisations resulting from the journey were tackled. The trip to Tanzania had shown that the plant could be optimized at some points in order to contribute to higher efficiency and robustness and to simplify the distribution. My task was to deal with the glass breakages that occurred in Tanzania. One of the results was that the highly stressed lower glass pane was divided into several small glass sheets. 

Besides technical challenges of SoWaDi it was not possible for a long time to find a location for a test plant in Germany which would have allowed us to have the plant in operation for more than six weeks. Therefore I was very happy that we finally found a location in early 2019 and a few months later we could build a plant at the TU Darmstadt which will be there for at least 3 years. This enables us to test changes in practice and collect long-term data.  

Besides the skills I have acquired through the engineering work, I have learned a lot about working together and efficiently in large groups. Since October 2018 I have been the contact person of SoWaDi and have learned a lot about successful group management and organisation and was able to use the already acquired skills from my IOG beginning time. 

Furthermore, this work has made me much more sensitive when it comes to intercultural communication and development cooperation. Also the attendance of some seminars for further education of Engineers without Borders has contributed to this. Through this work I have gained a completely different perspective on topics such as everyday discrimination and racism. 

While the outgoing team was working in Tanzania, it was my job to support them as much as possible and to derive tasks that the back office can take over for them. This way they could concentrate fully on their tasks on site, while I always knew what was coming up for them and was involved in the important decisions. 

The activities of our back office team were mainly of an organizational nature: we wrote the blog entries and donation reports, answered questions from the outbound team and in doing so, promoted the long-term orientation of the project. 

All six SoWaDi plants have a unique serial number. Obviously, a type plate should not be missing.
From the users of the plants we regularly receive data about the plants. This allows us to see how the performance changes over time.

In addition, we had enough time during to bring in the communication between us as SoWaDi team in Darmstadt and the users of the facilities. The nice thing about it was to see that not only we could give input to the people on site, but also the dedicated users gave us suggestions for improvement of our work, so that we are already a well-rehearsed team with most of the users. This was a very important sign, which reflects the good course of the departure and hopefully is an example of how things will go when the outgoing team is back in Darmstadt. 

I am also particularly pleased that the project will continue in Germany. The test phase is also entering the next round here in Germany: In cooperation with the Institute for Technical Thermodynamics at the TU Darmstadt, we want to further optimize our measurement technology concept to increase the efficiency of the system. A twin is to join the plant, which is already here in Darmstadt, at the beginning of summer. The idea is that the improvements we will be making to the twin plant will not only be implemented even faster, but above all we will be able to evaluate them directly in comparison with the standard plant. 

Last week, the departure team had important meetings with the project partner, which had to be conducted directly with the responsible persons on site.  These meetings were extremely important, so that the Kilimanjaro Childlight Foundation can be the interface between us and the users in the future, should there be any problems with the installations or with the communication among each other.

On Wednesday 04.03.2020 Jonas, Julius and Rebecca started their journey home with a heavy heart and arrived safely in Germany on Thursday morning.

Now that they have left the country, the first thing to do is to do some follow-up work so that no valuable knowledge is lost.  There have been a lot of exciting discussions on the subject of the distribution of the plant and we have to continuously process the data we constantly receive from the users. 

When the immediate follow-up is complete, the biggest challenge for the team will be to crystallize the other essential project tasks and to focus on the newly set goals. These will certainly include, among other things, the technical challenges that arose during the construction of the six plants, which the outgoing team will report on in detail in the coming weeks. 

All in all, I am extremely pleased that the departure went well despite some minor challenges. We can be really satisfied and proud, the long preparation was worth it. An extraordinary amount was achieved, not only by the outgoing team and by us in the back office, but also by the people on site, most of whom we did not even know before leaving. The fact that the feedback from working together on site was always positive was a welcome reward for the last months of intensive preparation. 

We realize how important it is to continue working on our project. Not only because we ourselves are fascinated by it, but also because the local people see the necessity of the plants and their advantages over existing methods of water treatment. The problem of the water situation is and will continue to be topical in many regions of the world and for all these people it is worthwhile to further revise the plant and to optimise dissemination strategies so that as many people as possible can benefit from it.  

Well prepared for the test phase

A collective meeting: Together with the other project participants, I am delighted about the successful conclusion of the past weeks.
This is me, Samwel Masaga. 

Hello, my name is Samwel Emmanuel Masaga and in this blog I will tell you about the current state of the SoWaDi project and my role in it. First some things about me: I am 25 years old, live in Moshi, studied Wildlife Management at the Sokoine University of Agriculture and work as Project Manager at KCF (Kilimanjaro Childlight Foundation). In this function I have only been working on the project since February and had great respect for getting into the subject. However, with the help of Rebecca, Jonas, Julius and Edgar, it was made very easy for me to get started, so I now feel in good hands with the project. I like the fact that I always have the chance to learn something different, to have new, intensive encounters with different communities and thus broaden my horizon.  Above all, I find it remarkable that the project aims to improve the water situation in our communities.  

In the Secondary School Rebecca gives our workshop on water and hygiene. The pupils work on the different ways of transmission of diseases.

When I was little, we sometimes boiled the water on a fire, but that always involved a lot of work. Before that, firewood has to be collected and brought home. This sometimes involved long journeys and after the working day my parents were usually too tired for that. Drinking it from the tap is much more comfortable. But here in the region it is mostly coupled with health risks. I am convinced that SoWaDi can make a big difference here.  

After the last SoWaDi plant has been installed, information flyers and other material are handed out. In the future, interested visitors of the family can learn more about the plant.

When I was not allocated to the project that long yet, I had the chance to watch the completion of the first plant in Kidia, the second location, together with Jonas and Rebecca. I was very impressed to see the hot water and some steam leaving the plant. Treating water with the sun is a rather unknown technology and many, including myself, find it difficult to understand directly what exactly happens. After seeing the plant in action for the first time, I had no doubt that the water is actually boiled.  

To give you an impression of the last week and my work at SoWaDi I would like to tell you a little bit about it:  

Ichikael and Rebecca meet Mr. Machunda from the African Institute of Science and Technology. He is an expert in the field of materials science.

At the beginning of the week, the construction team, together with Jonas, Julius and Rebecca, completed the sixth and last plant of this trip. Julius and Rebecca held a workshop on water and hygiene at the secondary school in Kidia. During the almost two hours, interesting questions of the about 60 students about different aspects of water and especially about its treatment arose. 

Later in the week, Jonas and Julius went on to the Malage VTC. There they worked on the last open points and took water samples of the first two plants again to make sure that they continue to deliver safe water. Meanwhile, Rebecca and Ichikael travelled to Arusha to meet with Dr. Hilonga from Nanofilter and Dr. Machunda from the Nelson Mandela African institute of Science and Technology. Primarily topics concerning the possible future expansion of the plant were discussed, but contacts were also made to further benefit from each other and to exchange knowledge. 

The head of the laboratory of the local water authority explains to us what is important when taking water samples. Afterwards we practice taking samples.

On Friday I learned how to take water samples together with Rebecca and my KCF colleagues Samier and Ichikael. We were professionally trained by our contact person at MUWSA, the local water authority in Moshi.  

The Kidia construction team proudly presents what we have achieved together. 

The functionality of the plant should be checked at regular intervals during the test phase. For this purpose, it is necessary that water samples of the untreated input water and the safe output water are taken to a laboratory and examined there. My colleagues and I take over the task of taking the samples from the plants and handing them over to the laboratory. Here we have to pay special attention to the fact that mistakes during sampling can lead to incorrect results. I was able to learn all this and much more during the training. I am pleased to be able to actively shape the test phase with this newly acquired knowledge. 

Julius and Mr. Abed next to one of the first plants in Tanzania. At the Malage VTC, they tackle open points together. 
At the meeting on Sunday a lively exchange about the experiences with SoWaDi plants takes place.

At the end of this successful week, we all drove to the Secondary School in Kidia on Sunday to do a “get together” with all users of all the facilities. The aim was for everyone to get to know each other and to be able to support each other in the future if necessary. As a contact person of the KCF I also play an important role in this, especially when Jonas, Julius and Rebecca are back in Germany. We took the opportunity to visit the plant there together, and there was a lively exchange on the similarities and differences between the respective plants.  

Afterwards the plant at the Kidia Secondary School is visited and differences between the plants are discussed.

So far, we have built six plants together at three different locations here in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania and have already been able to help some people to get access to safe water. This is what I really wish for: That this project does not just take place in a few spots, but becomes big. It should spread further, not just in one or two places, but throughout Tanzania and beyond. I am sure that there is a demand for SoWaDi plants, which are easy to operate and maintain, in many places in Tanzania. Above all they are an alternative way to get germ-free water without time-consuming wood collecting and without laborious wood fires. I think that currently especially smaller schools and orphanages can benefit enormously from this technology, because the daily output of the plant is still too little for larger facilities. Because it was very easy for me to understand the plant and to get familiar with the project, I am sure that there are always people who are also enthusiastic about SoWaDi. These people will then be willing to take over the task of operation and maintenance and thus contribute to an improvement of the living situation in their environment.

Together – two projects, one region

On Monday I discussed with the teachers of Kidia Primary School what is important for the trouble free operation of the plants.
T his is me, Julius Breuer.

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.  

At Maki Secondary School, a teacher and I measure the steepness of the school grounds. For this we use a hose scale. 
Then we measure the height of the building. This is interesting for the location of the rainwater cistern.

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.  

The fundament for the Kidia Secondary School is being aligned.
To bend the sheets, the builders use a self-made tool. 
Together students, teachers, our construction team and Jonas bend the copper pipe for the fifth plant.
Step by step the absorber is completed.
During an event on Sunday I explained our plant to interested people from the community.
Meanwhile Jonas and Rebecca present our project in the church of Kidia. 

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.  

Well done colleagues

We did it! TZ04 ist done, me and the team are happy.
This is me, Stephen Makyara.

Hello, my name is Stephen Makyara, I am 32 years old and live with my family in Kidia, near Moshi. At the end of 2019 I heard about the SoWaDi project from Ichikael Malisa, because she was looking for volunteers to help building two SoWaDi plants in Kidia. I think it is very important that all children of Kidia Primary School should benefit from the plants, which also includes my son. I was very interested in helping with the construction of the plants in order to learn more about the function, the construction and important factors for the building of a solar thermal water disinfection plant. The last two weeks I was therefore involved in the construction of the first two plants in Kidia. During the construction we encountered several problems. The water containers were initially leaking and the glue we used did not hold well at first. Fortunately, we were able to solve the problem at the beginning of the week. The 10 meter long copper pipe has to be bent several times. To save time we first tried to buy a bending tool, but could not find one.  In the beginning I was sceptical if it would work well to bend the copper pipe by yourself. In the end, bending the pipe worked better than expected.  

Mistakes happen, the bent pipe must be corrected.

When assembling the equipment I learned a lot about the alignment of the copper pipe to the input container. It is important that the container and the pipe are placed at the right distance to each other so that the water is heated sufficiently and all pathogenic bacteria are killed. However, one of the biggest challenges during construction was to provide the insulation for the plant. I know a lot about building houses and the materials needed to do so, in addition to the work with the animals that my family owns ( goats, a cow, chickens and a rooster), I build houses. But the houses here are not insulated. For the existing plants at Malage VTC, sisal was used to insulate. We could also get sisal from the Mwanga region for our plants. In the middle of the week we were able to complete the second plant here in Kidia. On Friday the plants were handed over to the teachers of the vocational school, who will use the plant together with the students every day. They discussed what to pay attention to when using the plant. In addition, the teachers will be in close contact with the users of the Malage VTC and the project team in Darmstadt for the next few years to collect and evaluate data and experiences of use over.  

Barick and I mount the finished bent pipe on the absorber plates.

On Monday and Tuesday, Jonas and Rebecca visited the Meli Secondary School again, where the next two plants were supposed to be built. Unfortunately, they encountered problems in the final phase of preparations.In the end, no plants can be built at Meli Secondary School. We, the volunteers from the construction team, have therefore agreed to build two more facilities in Kidia at short notice. Two of my team members, Charles and Thomas, started buying materials for the other facilities on Wednesday. Since the facilities are no longer new to us and we know what is important when it comes to the materials needed, my team members were able to purchase the materials independently. Together with Ichikael, Julius and EdgarI  visited possible locations for the two additional plants and the decision was made in favour of Kidia Secondary School. In addition to the school children of Kidia Primary School, the students of Kidia Secondary School can also benefit from the project. I will be part of the team again when the next two facilities are going to be built next week. 

Thomas, a team member, buying wood for the plants TZ05 and TZ06 with Rebecca.
Jonas buying materials from local suppliers for the racks of the equipment.

As I said, we successfully completed the second plant in the middle of the week. Thursday and Friday I had a long talk with Rebecca, Julius and Ichikael about my experiences as a craftsman and my impression of the SoWaDi plant. I hope that helps the SoWaDi team to find a suitable dissemination strategy so that as many people as possible can benefit from the project in the future. From my point of view SoWaDi has many advantages compared to other systems for water treatment. The people here in Kidia are currently using many resources to boil water. With the system we only need the sun. This saves a lot of work that we usually spend collecting firewood. Once the system is paid for and installed, there are no running costs. I hope that more SoWaDi plants will be built in the future.  

First interviews and networking – half time of our stay

Jonas, Ichikael and me visiting the local water and sewage authority (MUWSA). After a tour of their laboratory we discuss the current water situation in Moshi with Mr. Revocatus and Mr. Limbe.

Karibuni and hello to you all, my name is Rebecca James and in this blog entry I will tell you about my first experiences in Tanzania. I arrived on Monday the 3rd of February to support Jonas, Julius and Edgar, who have already been here for four weeks. Before I tell you, what has happened so far, I would like to introduce myself briefly. 

This is me, Rebecca James.

I am 23 years old, finished my bachelor in Energy Economics last year and since then I have been living in Darmstadt, where I am now studying the Master in Sustainable Urban Development at the TU Darmstadt. In November last year I went to my first meeting of Engineers without Borders. Around that time, they were just looking for a fourth person to travel to Tanzania and I felt like I was being addressed directly. At first, I had some doubts, because I didn’t really know the project nor the people. Nonetheless, I was looking forward to a departure, as I had already been to Bolivia for twelve months at the age of 18 as part of the Development Volunteer Service and later I had completed a semester abroad in Colombia.

The project group gave me a warm welcome and I quickly participated in the meetings of the team leaving towards Tanzania in order to learn as much as possible about the project during the short preparation time I had left.  

Within the project I am part of the distribution team. In this team we are trying to find ways how the project can be used by many people in the future, as I am confident that the SoWaDi devices can help people all over the world to get access to safe water. In this way we are trying to collect information based on which we can evaluate different distribution concepts. Concretely for the time abroad this means that we have prepare interviews and questionnaires and contacted suitable interview partners. For the distribution team and me this has not been easy, especially in the last few weeks, because so much was already happening in Tanzania and it was difficult to identify possible interview partners from Germany at the same time. 

Jonas and I take water samples at the Kiwoce Open School in Moshi to test for microbiological contamination and to see if the location is suitable for the SoWaDi devices.
Jonas (left) in conversation with our project partner Sam (middle) and Mr. Swai (right). Mr. Swai is a consultant in the field of innovation and water supply and gives us ideas on how to distribute our project among as many people as possible in the future.
Documentation is important! Here I take a photo of the labeled sample together with the source. Like this the sample can be clearly assigned.

So now, instead of writing exams, I am in Tanzania and am gaining experiences that would not be possible in Germany. What one often forgets is that you can plan and prepare a lot of things, but then it often turns out very differently. Here, things are more spontaneous and easygoing than in Germany and yet together we improvise and always find a solution that everyone is satisfied with. I am really looking forward to the next few weeks. Projects and practical experiences like these are important to me, so that I am willing to create the space for them in my studies. 

On Sunday a week ago, I left Frankfurt and arrived in Moshi on Monday, February 3rd. There I met with Jonas, who had previously been in Mwanga our first location. After the first night in Moshi I had time on Tuesday to settle in a bit before some meetings with the project partner were on the agenda. Later, Jonas and I planned the first meetings for the distribution interviews. Since we were still looking for a third location at that time, we visited the Kiwoce Open School in Moshi the next day. Then on Thursday we visited the laboratory of the local water supplier MUWSA, where we had our water tests done for all devices. This is also an important part of the Project, to be able to judge if water is suitable for treatment and how effective the SoWaDi devices are working. As expected, the tests so far have delivered good results. Later Jonas and I visited the Meli Secondary School as another possible location where we could get a first impression of the water situation at the school. On Friday we had the opportunity to meet Mr. Swai for a more detailed discussion. He has been active as a consultant in the field of innovation and water supply for a long time and could answer all our questions about SoWaDi from an entrepreneurial perspective. On the same day we also had a detailed discussion at the  

Meli Secondary School and finally decided to implement the project there in the next three weeks. Afterwards, Jonas and I drove to Kidia, four kilometers away, when the construction team there, together with Julius and Edgar, just finished the first plant. Although there were some challenges with a few components such as the insulation and bending of the copper pipes, “TZ03” could be put into operation as planned thanks to the very motivated, independent and precisely working team. The first output was definitely my most impressive event last week, as it was the first time, I could see the system “in action”! Together with 150 children of the Kidia Primary School I marveled at how the hot water flowed out of the absorber pipe. 

Julius and Steve from the construction team setting up the string lines. With this the system can be aligned exactly.
The construction team in Kidia bending the copper pipe. The bending device is self-built using the SoWaDi instructions.
Julius and Edgar put on the upper glass. The device is now almost ready.

Unfortunately, we did not manage to do all the interviews for the distribution like we had planned in this overloaded week. Therefore, we want to reserve one day in the next weeks for it. But we are happy to have finally found a suitable third location where we can build two more devices. After various attempts at other locations turned out unsuccessful for different reasons, such as chemical contamination of the water (the SoWaDi devices only treat microbiological contamination) it is now clear where we will continue next week. The Meli Secondary School is located far outside of Moshi on an unpaved road and gets its water from a spring, as it is not connected to the public water network. There we can implement our project effectively and together with the teachers and students on site improve the water situation a little bit. Just as in Mwanga and Kidia, here we also plan to build two systems. This will be a real challenge, as we were not able to plan as much in advance as at the other two locations. However, we are happy to take on the situation and are looking forward to starting there directly on Monday and getting to know the team! 

While Jonas and I are working there, the “TZ04” device will be completed next week in Kidia with the help of Julius, Edgar and the construction team. Next Sunday there will be an open event, to which the whole community is invited and where one will hopefully be able to see two finished SoWaDi systems. Here the devices will be presented and a workshop about “clean water” will be offered. This will give us the opportunity to talk to the locals, answer questions and collect information for market research and distribution. Apart from that we want to make up for missing distribution interviews in the further course of our journey. All in all, I hope that our stay in Tanzania will provide us six functioning devices and that we will find new ideas for further. With the information and the contacts gathered, we hope that the distribution group will be able to assess better who the target group is and where the equipment can be used most effectively. In the long run, my wish is that the project will be so far developed that SoWaDi devices will be built worldwide wherever people have no better possibility for water treatment and thus the water situation will be improved sustainably. Cross your fingers for us. 

Kind regards from the foot of Kili, Rebecca

The whole team united! For two weeks the four of us are in Tanzania before Edgar travels back to Germany. Therefore, we can split into two teams and manage twice as much.

Location two sighted

The team for Kidia is set.

Hello dear readers! My name is Ichikael Malisa, I am 30 years old and live near Moshi, Tanzania. I studied Mass Communication and since May 2019 I am project manager at the Kilimanjaro Childlight Foundation (KCF), the project partner of the SoWaDi project.  

That is me, Ichikael Malisa.

I spent my school time in boarding school where there only was river water to drink, as the school could not pay for treated water. From this time, I know the diseases like typhoid and diarrhea, which can be caused by drinking contaminated water. Even today, I have to admit that the water situation is bad, and many families are not yet sensitized to pre-treat the water they drink. Therefore, I was happy when I heard about the SoWaDi project in June 2019. I always thought that boiling water with solar energy only works with expensive solutions like ready-made solar systems. Even more, I was surprised that there is a device that you can build yourself with simple, locally available tools and materials! It shows adults and especially children in an impressive way, that we can sterilize water in a sustainable way and drink it without having to worry about our health. This not only has the great effect of disinfecting water but can also be used as a vivid example to impart knowledge.  

In order to advance the implementation of this project, I am always in active exchange with the SoWaDi team and as a project partner I take care of the coordination and communication on the spot. A special challenge for me is the communication with the partner schools. The project fascinates me so much that I often work on it until late in the evening and answer questions of our partners.  

Finally, Jonas, Julius, Edgar and soon Rebecca are here, and I am looking forward to building further devices together with them and their team in Darmstadt as well as to ensuring a long-term exchange with the users.  

Last Monday, 27.02., we went to Kidia to visit my parents, where the three of them live now. After a short get-together with the family we met the construction team and teachers of Kidia Primary School. Unlike at Malage VTC, the construction team here consists of five volunteers from the community, some of whose children attend the school themselves. In addition to the device at the primary school, there will be another one at Mr. Charles Njau in Kidia, which will be accessible to the community.  

At home with Mr. Charles, where one of the two devices will be. Mr. Charles shows Julius his water extraction point from the public network.

Meanwhile, Jonas and I continued our trip to Mwika to evaluate a school there as a possible third location. After we returned to Kidia, my skills as a translator were in great demand on Wednesdays, as we held a workshop with 150 school children, first about water in general, and then specifically about the SoWaDi device. The following day Jonas, Julius and Edgar went to Moshi accompanied by two members of the construction team for the purchase of materials. Among other things it was necessary to find out where the required materials were available and for example where the sheet metal and pipe bending work could be done.   

As there was a need at the Malage VTC for a readjustment of the devices, we agreed that Edgar and Julius would get the rest of the equipment needed the next day, while Jonas went back to Mwanga. All in all, we are well on schedule, which is not least due to the great commitment of those who are helping to build up SoWaDi. I was especially pleased that, contrary to their announcement to work alternately in daily shifts, all those who are involved in the construction have decided to invest their time in the construction of the devices. This makes me very happy and optimistic for the next week!  

The location for the device at Kidia Primary School. Mr. Charles and Julius are clarifying the day’s course of the sun.

Then Julius, Edgar, all the helpers and I will finally get to work on setting up the water disinfection devices. The only factor of uncertainty for us remains the weather, because if it rains, we cannot continue working outside. So, keep your fingers crossed that the sun will shine next week! Apart from the SoWaDi implementations Rebecca will arrive next Monday and we will meet people we can interview about the distribution of the device. So far, we have not been successful in finding a suitable third location. But I am sure that we will find a solution and I hope that we will continue the close contact in the future. After all, good communication is essential for the success of the project. In the long term, it would be nice if the devices could supply safe water for a long time and if the people here could be involved in a sustainable way. Then SoWaDi devices could be built in the future without the help of the project team and the team would only have to come to do the inspection. 

Workshop on the topic of water and hygiene with the students, teachers and volunteers. Edgar and Julius work out the importance of clean water in dialogue with the students.
In the afternoon we deepen the topic of clean water with the team that will build the devices. I translate everything.
The volunteers are actively involved from the very beginning. Steven explains his question at the blackboard.
We have found what we were looking for. The aluminum sheets for the absorber are large enough and the sheet thickness is also correct.
Purchasing the materials. Julius and Jonas critically check the tightness of the tanks to be purchased.
Small parts for the connection between absorber and tank are to be found. This is a complex process, as each part is taken individually from the warehouse and checked for usability.
Boards are looked at in the store and the divisions for cutting are made. A lot of time is spent on this, because wood is one of the most expensive components of the plant.

System reactivated: Both devices are working again

The device is ready.

Hello, I am Edgar Dingeldein, 58 years old, married and with two children. I live south of Darmstadt in an area called Modautal. 

That is me, Edgar Dingeldein.

I am an architect and right now I am head of the Department of Construction Management and Technical Operations of the Technical University of Darmstadt. After secondary school I started a two-year formation as a carpenter and cabinetmaker and worked afterwards in a workshop for people with disabilities as well as a carpentry. 1985-1992 I studied architecture at the Technical University of Darmstadt. Immediately after graduating as architect I found an architect`s office with three other graduates and was co-owner just until 2008, when I decided to look for new challenges elsewhere. My destiny brought me back to my roots and so I ended up again at the Technical University of Darmstadt.  

In the several journeys throughout Africa, where I ended up in Morocco, the Sahara, through the Atlas Mountains as well as to Kenia, the topic of clean drinking water always was an omnipresent companion. In rural areas more than in cities, but nonetheless even in cities it is not possible to drink tap water without boiling it first. The consequences of drinking water that is biologically or chemically contaminated can be devastating. Kids that are unable to attend to school or parents to work, but also chronic illnesses or a lower life expectancy. Personal, familial or social developments are directly dependent on the availability of drinking water. I asked myself if I could contribute in any way to the improvement this situation and that is how I ended up joining the local group of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) in Darmstadt. Here I am an active SoWaDi member since November 2018. I like to be part of actual projects and to bring in my experience. EWB is not only well prepared in the technical area and the content, but also works very reflected on the topic of development cooperation. The work is interdisciplinary, everyone is able and welcome to join and that is a concept I really like. Within SoWaDi I work in the subgroup performance where I can contribute technical expertise in the fields of construction, design, materials and woodworking. Furthermore, for our mission here in Tanzania I took over the job as photographer. 

Before leaving we had numerous obstacles to overcome.  The three subgroups performance, manual and 3D-modeling could work together even more effectively and optimize the interfaces, thus enabling the concept to be worked out even better.  

Another challenge for all of us is the semester-related fluctuations in student numbers, and personally my job at TU Darmstadt is also very demanding. The fluctuation among students requires a great deal of effort to ensure that knowledge is maintained and transferred. The changes that my involvement with Engineers Without Borders brought about, were most noticeable in relation to my free time, which I invested largely in project work. Especially the preparation for the departure was very time-consuming. Although this was to be expected, it was still more than anticipated. At the same time, I received an incredible amount of positive feedback and interest from my personal environment. The development cooperation and the SoWaDi project are new for me and led to a completely different way of approach to the younger generation, since the group consists mainly of students.  

Julius explaining the measurement components. Over the next months and years, measurement technology will be used to record data at one of the devices, which will provide our team with information regarding the long-term behavior.

What important things happened in this last week? First of all, our Tanzanian partners, together with Julius, Jonas and I have repaired both devices and mastered some challenges such as material purchase. We were under some pressure and often had to improvise. With team spirit and commitment, we nevertheless succeeded in getting both devices up and running on Friday as planned. Unfortunately, we were not able to make a fresh tea with SoWaDi water because the sun did not play along. Finally, a last meeting with the users on site was held to discuss the further procedure and to establish a communication channel for close cooperation. In the meantime, we returned from Mwanga to Moshi and discussed the implementation of the project at the next location. Retrospectively, what impressed me most at our first stopover was the wonderful hospitality of Gasianus and his wife as well as his commitment to the Vocational Training Center and the students. 

Curiously we watch the insertion of the upper glass. The most sensitive part of the system.

From now on, however, it is time to prepare for the next location: Kidia Primary School. The general conditions there are still largely unknown, and it will certainly be exciting to arrive there and deal with the situation. Our plan is to first discuss the situation with all those involved, to emphasize the importance of an intact water supply together in workshops and to go shopping. All in all, I hope to gain more knowledge of the SoWaDi device from this journey on the one hand. On the other hand, I am curious to find out how what we have been planning for so long will look like and work when implemented. Personally, I think regular changes of perspective are important and I want to broaden my horizon. I want to see new facets of the world with my own eyes, because usually media only show the world in a filtered way. SoWaDi is a genius idea, but there are still question marks regarding the benefits and costs of the system. Despite these uncertainties, I hope that the project will find broad acceptance.

At the input tank, Julius and Jonas apply the measuring scale. With the barometric level, which shows the filling volume, 5 liters are marked in each case.
The last step before implementing. Teacher and student screw the cover frame for the glass tightly. To prevent the system from heating up while working, the glass is covered.
Julius explains all important aspects of maintenance and work. 
The vocational students, teachers and I are happy about the final pictures and videos.

Arrival and start at Malage VTC

That’s me, Gasianus L. Senzighe.

Hello, my name is Gasianus L Senzighe. I am 63 years old and head of the technical college, the Malage Vocational Training Center (VTC), in my hometown Mwanga, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. In 1982 I had the chance to visit Germany in the course of my teachers training, where I was able to gain some experience at different German vehicle manufacturers. After my return I knew I wanted to pass my knowledge on to others and I decided to establish my own technical college. 2014 I returned to Germany where I was told about the SoWaDi project in Darmstadt. In my opinion the topic safe water is still not taken as serious as it should be and many people keep on drinking germ-contaminated water. The aspect that most impressed me with the SoWaDi-device was its simplicity. It does not depend on expensive material, like firewood or gas to work, but rather uses the energy provided by the sun. That is the reason I became part of the whole project. 

Here I am examining the device together with Jonas and some of the students. Wood signed with an X will be exchanged. 

After some of my students, the SoWaDi team and I built up two devices at the Malage VTC in 2017, the system boiled water for a few months. Therefore, we were able to provide water to those who could not to boil it otherwise. Sadly, with the passing of time the devices started to decrease their output, but together with Jonas, Julius and Edgar we are going to solve those problems and update the devices on the schoolground. 

Edgar, trained carpenter and architect, shares his knowledge about wood with the students.

Last Monday the team arrived safe and sound here at Mwanga, although Julius returned to Moshi on the same day to explore the other locations in Tanzania and meet up with potential partners on the following days. On Tuesday Edgar, Jonas as well as the students and teachers got to know each other through a workshop about water, hygiene and the SoWaDi device. In addition, a team for updating the devices was put together. Together they took the first water samples to ensure that the water to be treated meets the requirements. The following day Edgar, Jonas and the team examined the devices and came up with a shopping list for improving everything that needed to be done. Therefore, two of the students, the complete SoWaDi team (Julius had returned by now) and I could go and get the materials needed the next day. Friday finally we could start repairing the first device.   Sunday, I took the team along with me to the weekly meeting of Rotary Club Mwanga, where I am a member. I was glad to hear that the Rotary Club in Darmstadt also supports SoWaDi. All in all, I am more than happy to see how the difficulties concerning the device are being approached with motivation by everyone. I can only hope that the students and teacher here at the Malage VTC will be incorporated in all the details of building up the device, so we can ensure to be able to run and maintain them on our own in the future.  

In the following week we will finalize the construction and learn more about the functioning. It is also very important to establish a line of communication with the local group in Darmstadt before my three guests leave for their next stop. For the future my biggest wish is to strengthen the partnership, to keep on learning from each other and provide assistance when problems occur. 

In my opinion a lot of people could profit from SoWaDi in the future.  Technical challenges are being understood and removed quicker, therefore the buildup will probably be faster and easier. It is important to integrate the teachers in this whole process, so we can ensure that upcoming generations of students can also learn and profit from the devices. It has made me hopeful to see that some teachers and students want to introduce SoWaDi in their villages and are thinking about even implementing it there too. 

Together with Jonas and Edgar buying the things we need for the construction. I know the village very well, therefore we find everything faster than expected.
Visiting a sisal-farm we were kindly given a tour. Within the device sisal is used as insulation.
Building the device is teamwork. I am glad to see how well everyone is working together.
The first part of the rack is finished. This time the device will be standing on a pedestal to prevent any insects from attacking.

We arrived!

Hi, I’m Jonas Jeckstadt, 25 years old and living in Darmstadt, where I have been working as implementing engineer three years now. For my work I need to travel to different countries, therefore I am experienced in implementing projects in unknown cultures. 

That is me, Jonas Jeckstadt

I am part of engineers without borders and active in the group SoWaDi since 2017.  At first, I worked in the group, that came up and improved the manual. But my first months in the group were not easy, quite a few knowledge gaps had to be filled, as experienced members had left and taken much of the knowledge with them.  

Despite those challenges, from the beginning I had the feeling that I was doing good work that actually helps people. I feel how every little bit of work that I invest into the project, has a positive impact on the outcome of the project. At the same time, I am able to work with people, that have the same mindset and ideology, people that I can by now even call friends.  

Since the beginning of last year together with Sara and Julius, I am one of the group leaders. My responsibilities are keeping contact to our project partners and I have initiated the improvement of our knowledge management, to prevent us from losing valuable knowledge again.  

Although it has been only four days since we arrived, I can already look back on some positive events. It all started with our flight through Ethiopia landing at the Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania on Thursday. 

Right at the airport Edgar, Julius and I were greeted and picked up by our project partner IchikaelMalisa, which for me personally was a very special moment, as we had been in close contact since June. We had spent months planning our visit in Tanzania and then all of a sudden we see each other in person for the first time and I knew the following two months would make up for all the effort.  From the airport we drove to Moshi to leave our luggage at the hotel and went for a walk to get to know the city we are going to spend some time in.

Frank George, Ichikael, Jonas and Julius talking about the time schedule at the KCF office 

The day after our arrival we had a meeting scheduled at the KCF. Ichikael and the whole team at the KCF are unbelievable cooperative and do amazing work. Already on Friday I felt like time was flying by and that I was longer in Tanzania than I actually was. The same day we meet with the governmental Water and Sewerage Authority for the community of Moshi and surroundings (MUWSA), as we are going to order the analysis of water samples there to compare the quality of water before and after the treatment with our device. After those two bigger events, we had to get things like a SIM card, cash or equipment for the testing of water.  

This Monday we are leaving for the Malage VTC where we will spent the next two weeks with our partner Gasianus Senzighe. The two devices that were built there in 2017 must be looked at closely and updated urgently. 

For the upcoming two months, I hope to achieve everything we have planned, although the schedule is very tight. Most thrilling for me will definitely be, the meeting of all kind of different people at the three different locations.  

With our work here, we are laying the base for the communication about the working and deterioration of the device. After we return, it is essential that all parties involved work hard on obtaining usable data and communicating solutions fast when needed. However, I am confident for the future and one day I am sure that SoWaDi will help a lot of people all around the world without the need of our interference.  

Ichikael, Jonas, Julius and Frank George visiting one of the KCF projects