Success Stories: Katie Difilippo and Water Security in Rural Karagwe, Tanzania
Katie Difilippo came in third place in the Africa Rural Connect 2009 contest for her idea about harvesting rainwater in rural Tanzania. Working with Amizade Service Learning International and grassroots efforts to provide water security in rural Tanzania, Difilippo has helped bring clean water to 11 survivors of gender-based human rights abuses, their families, and over 300 low-income women and children. In addition, the work done in the rural Karagwe district of Tanzania has inspired over 1,000 American volunteers to advocate for the project. It has also sensitized hundreds of Tanzanians on alternative water treatment options.
From 2009 to 2010, the project had many advances, including construction of a 300,000 liter water harvesting system with a solar powered pump that provides water for a new school in the rural village of Chonyoyo as well as a fruit tree nursery. The project has also led to the development of workshops on water purification using sunlight and the installation of hand washing machines for rural families to promote health and sanitation.
During the process, Difilippo learned that plastic tanks are ineffective and are not very good for addressing water collection or storage. Additionally, using local materials to construct the tanks and other structures was by far the most efficient and logical technique to implement. This plan consequently included families in the construction and upkeep process and so kept the community invested in the water systems and the project focused on what the community needs. For example, the project originally would have facilitated the construction of several smaller tanks as opposed to one large 300,000 liter tank, but the community was very adament about their need for a large tank and so the project plans changed to fit the community's needs.
Some other unexpected aspects of the project include the add-on of the fruit tree farm, which helped address water security issues, and educational initiatives which provided food and agricultural support to the community. Additionally, maintaining partnerships with other NGOs and the community proved to be very successful, and the project was completed through the unwavering time and effort of many dedicated people. Finally, the project's ability to raise an additional $13,000 for the project was a great boost for improving water security in rural Karagwe, Tanzania.
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