Tag Archives: Clean water

Exciting New Developments

We’re excited about two developments regarding Biosand Water Filters!

First, we have  a Metal Fabrication class which is building a metal form, for pouring the filter vessels! This form will be invaluable when we get to Tanzania. We will use it first to make filters, and then–more importantly, we will show it to our local “metal fundi” so he can build more, just like it! It really helps to see what  the finished product looks like, and how it works. Here’s what one of these forms looks like.

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We also have just found a set of plans for making one of these forms out of plywood! We found this online, at ohorizons.org.  I’m fairly handy with wood, so by next week, we hope to have one of these built. We suspect these may not last as long as the metal forms, but the cost is much lower and the technology is much easier. wood mold production

Either of these forms makes a concrete vessel for a water filter that will produce as much as 36 gallons of clean water per day! The science behind these filters is very interesting. In nature, water is purified by flowing through sand and gravel and by exposure to the sun. This system, developed by a scientist at the University of Calgary, removes up to 99% of all pathogens from dirty water!

Organisms&BSF

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We don’t do handouts.

It was a bit shocking the other day, to hear another missionary telling a church, “We don’t do handouts!” Shocking, but absolutely spot-on.

Christ said, “The truth shall set you free.” Handouts, on the contrary, lead to dependency, not freedom. So we don’t do handouts.

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Building a bottle-brick cistern in Monduli Juu

We empower people. We teach them how to use the gifts God gave them, to improve their lives and free them and their children. If we help them learn to read, they can then learn to be free from AIDS, or a fear of AIDS. When they build their own water collection system, and their own water filter, it frees them from disease and from trudging miles to a dirty pond for water. They can raise healthier animals and better gardens, and make a better life for their family.We empower them by working with them to use the resources they already have.

If we gave them water filters, we might have a moment’s contact, from a benefactor to a supplicant. That’s not a good relationship for either person. The real need is not for filters or tanks, but for learning, and learning is a two-way street. When we work together to build a filter or a bottle-brick cistern, we all learn, we all have something to offer, and we all build relationships. When we have finished, the people who have built the filter or the tank or have learned to read can go back to their home and teach their neighbors to do the same.

We have certain principles which we use as a measuring stick, a canon in the classical sense, for choosing the work we will do in the community. This is the first: Can local people do this with materials they have or can afford? Put another way, will they need something from elsewhere (America, for example) or money from elsewhere in order to do this again? The answer must be that they can do this with their own resources, or it is not a worthy offering to them. Each thing we do must free them from being dependent; must enable them to help themselves and their neighbors.

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Living on Solar Power: More About Our Future House in Tanzania

If you looked closely at the pictures of our rented house in Monduli Juu, you may have noticed that there’s a solar panel on the roof and a power line tied in on the front porch.

The house is on the electrical grid. However, with power available as little as 4 hours a day, that doesn’t help much. We expect that we will depend largely on solar power.

Our impromptu system: One panel, a car battery, a controller and an inverter.

Our impromptu system: One panel, a car battery, a controller and an inverter.

We experimented with this a bit while we were in Tanzania this year. Lewis Short had a working battery, and we purchased a solar panel and the associated parts. The panel provides 12 volt power any time the sun is shining. The controller manages the power loads so the panel can’t overcharge the battery and the inverter can’t completely drain the battery. The inverter converts the 12 volt DC power into 220 volt power. The extension cord runs through the bedroom window. It was enough to provide power for my CPAP and for charging our electronic devices.

This system costs about $150 (plus the cost of the battery). We will need a system about ten times as large as this, to run our appliances and electric lights. The good news is that we can purchase all the parts (except a 110 volt inverter, just in case) locally, supporting local businesses.

Just south of the equator, and at an altitude similar to Denver, we get lots of sun! In fact, we have to be careful to wear a hat when we’re outside, pretty much all the time.  Solar power is a smart way to go.

It’s especially smart when you consider this story from the BBC, explaining that Tanzania has just shut down all of its hydro-electric power plants, because of a shortage of water. The already tenuous power supply is now further reduced.

That water shortage has much more serious repercussions. If there isn’t enough water to run the turbines, there certainly isn’t enough water for people, or for their animals or their farms & gardens. So while we are installing a solar system for our own needs, we’re looking for ways to help our neighbors meet their need for clean water.

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Our Future House in Tanzania

Because our mission is an outreach to the Maasai people,we wanted to live among the Maasai. We had seen where a few people had built brick houses in the area dominated by the Maasai, and thought we might be able to rent one. Through a casual connection, we were introduced to the retired Head Teacher from Maasai Girls School, who owns a vacant house in the Monduli Juu area. This is exactly where we wanted to live! We have rented this house in advance, to move in on June 1, 2016.  I have included an album below; I believe you can click on the thumbnails to see a large image.

This is a lovely house, but this community has no water supply. In order to live here, we will need to build an extensive rainwater collection system. With our landlady’s permission, we hope to extend the roof to increase the area for rainwater collection, and to give us some additional covered living/visiting space. With the additional water, we will be able to use the flush toilet and shower that are already built in the house.

When we saw this house, we thought, “We could move in right away!” That’s almost true. It’s a very nice house, but without a water supply or electricity, it would be difficult to live here (that’s probably part of the reason our landlady lives elsewhere). Desert Water Agency estimates a need of 6000 gallons per month for two people.

  • We must enlarge this roof to provide more rainwater catchement capability.
  • We must be able to store at least 2 months supply on location (preferably 3 or more).
  • Estimated cost: $20,000
  • Solar Hot water system $500.00

We will also install solar panels for electricity, because the electrical system here is very undependable. It is often off for days at a time, and rarely on for more than 8 hours a day.We will have a generator as backup, so we will be living “off the grid.” However, because cell phone service (and internet capability) are almost universal in Tanzania, that’s one thing that actually works better than in Memphis.

  • 5 Kv Diesel generator: $1200.00
  • 10 Kv Solar System: $1200.00

Which brings us to the point: We need assistance with these costs. We’re raising money for our support, but we also need money to cover one-time costs like moving, language school and renovating our house. If you, or your church are interested in partnering with us in this work, please let us know.

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Filed under funding for missions, Living in Tanzania, mission prep, Mission Work, Rainwater Collection

Purification: Changing lives with water filters

After we received such positive feedback to our last post, Saving Souls… One Bottle at a Time. I thought it might be valuable to show you another piece of our evangelism strategy: building bio-sand water filters. Like building cisterns using bottle-brick construction, this method has the same clear advantages:

  • It meets a felt need: for clean water & good health.
  • It’s sustainable: anyone can do it with local materials.
  • And it provides a lot of relationship-building time between the local church and the non-believers who want to learn.

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In July, we attended a workshop in Anacortes, WA, on bio-sand water filters. One of the big lessons we learned is that this is a community effort! You can see how everyone was working together in each of these pictures.

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All the time we spent shovelling and sifting sand, mixing concrete, pounding the mold, we were building relationships with the people we were working with. We started our total strangers. After a week of sweating together and eating together, we had become close friends.

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As we worked on this, it became clear to us that this could be a great tool for evangelism. The Maasai understand that dirty water can make them sick; they are constantly looking for maji saafa–clean, safe water. When they come to help build their own water filter, or a filter for their child’s school, they will be building relationships with Christian men and women.

So how well do the filters work?

Organisms&BSF

As you can see from our graphic, they work very well. They work as well as most commercially available filters, but they can be built by local people, using locally available materials. With a simple modification, they will remove arsenic from water!

Consider the effectiveness of the filters in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since January 2015, there have been more than 100,000 documented cases of cholera, with over 2,000 deaths. Our friends at Friendly Water for the World (who trained us) trained two teams of BioSand Filter fabricators (one made up entirely of women rape survivors from the war.)  They installed BioSand Water Filters in 26 orphanages, and taught basic hygiene and community sanitation. Since installing these filters, they have completely eliminated cholera: As of September 2nd, there is not a single case of cholera in any orphanage in Goma.

This gives us an opportunity to be a blessing to the community, and a method to spread the gospel. Matthew repeatedly tells us that Christ went about healing people, teaching and proclaiming the news about the kingdom. We emulate His model in our work in Tanzania.

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Filed under Clean Water, mission prep, Mission Work