Maritime Civil Affairs Team 115 Makes an Impact in Tanzania
For most people, getting a glass of water or taking a shower requires a simple turn of a knob. For the residents of Fundo Island, a small islet that is part of Pemba Island, the act of getting water can involve a 16 mile round trip boat ride to Pemba and back, followed by an overland trek of up to 5 miles to get the water back to their villages.
Maritime Civil Affairs Team (MCAT) 115, based out of Little Creek, Virginia, and deployed to Tanzania as part of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, recognized this problem during an assessment of the island, and came up with a low-cost, sustainable solution.
The team proposed placing seven 5,000 liter water cisterns throughout the island, which would enable the Fundo residents to store water on the island. The island is supplied with water by a four-inch water main running from the town of Wete, eight miles away on the main island of Pemba. The water is transported by a system of pumps, and due to frequent power outages, the people of Fundo are faced with the arduous round-trip journey to Wete to get their water for drinking, cooking and bathing.
"We saw the incredible amount of effort that the people of Fundo were forced to exert during these power outages, and we knew there had to be a sustainable solution for the problem," said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Clint Phillips, MCAT 115 team leader.
The project began September 2, 2010, with the transportation of the cisterns from Wete to Fundo via boat. Sites were identified for the placement of the cisterns and concrete pads were built to support the huge weight of the cisterns, over five tons when full. Most of the sites were near existing faucets, allowing easy access to the water main.
"The fluctuation of power can make it very difficult for us to get water," said Juma Ameir Falum, Fundo's counselor, or elected official. "This project is very important for the island, and we cherish the effort of the MCAT."
In addition to the water project, MCAT 115 assessed 17 primary health care units (PHCU's) in Pemba's Wete district. There are roughly 56 dispensaries in four districts throughout the island, including one on Fundo.
"As national institutions go, their programs are robust and mirror the best practices of Western medicine," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bruce Edmunds of Pemba's health care facilities. "I think they are absolutely, positively headed in the right direction."
MCAT 115 is involved in a number of projects within their area of operation in Tanzania, including basic seamanship skills training, basic lifesaving skills training, health care assessments and engineering projects like the one on Fundo.
"Doing these projects and conducting this training has been amazing," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Forest Cameron, MCAT 115 team engineer. "The people are really receptive, and I hope it encourages them to seek out more knowledge to help improve their lives."