Mikumi Solar Project in Tanzania – My experience in Tanzania has been immensely satisfying; the landscape, the wonderful people and the wildlife I witnessed are emblematic of Africa; and, of course, there is the Mikumi Solar Project.
It has been particularly gratifying to me that the Project addresses water quantity and water quality problems at Mikumi that have significance in the developing world in general and solar energy is being used to do so. The groundwater supply used onsite at the Mikumi vocational school has not been reliable because of a sporadic electrical power supply and because of limitations to the groundwater resource in the dry season. Installation of the solar-driven pumping system along with better water management should go a long way to addressing water shortages. The Project incorporates a data monitoring and data logging system that will allow continued tracking of the groundwater resource regarding daily pumping responses, seasonal effects and, in the longer term, response to climate change. It will also monitor the functioning of the water well pumping system and water usage. These data will be accessed remotely and it is to be made available for other interested organizations for research purposes. This type of long term record keeping has important implications; to manage a resource it has to be understood and the data generated along with its interpretation will be a positive step in doing so.
Groundwater quality is usually superior to a surface water source from the standpoint of protection from waterborne diseases. However, there are serious issues at Mikumi indicating groundwater contamination from surface sources. According to our microbiological testing results the water at the Mikumi vocational school would be deemed unfit for human consumption in Canada because of the possible occurrence of pathogenic organisms. The water we tested in Mikumi Village and at the hospital adjacent to the vocational school was shown to be positive for fecal contamination and hence it very probably bears pathogenic organisms. It is astonishing that a public water supply and that serving a primary health care facility are so severely contaminated and yet continue to be used in the absence any suitable treatment and monitoring mechanism and awareness. Ideas to address this issue, again, involving solar energy, have already been discussed.
A tremendous collaborative effort by the Mikumi team has resulted in an ambitious project coming to fruition. It is our hope that Mikumi vocational can be made a demonstration site showcasing what can be done in developing countries as appropriate concerning water supply management in collaboration with our wonderful Mikumi friends.
Faculty, Environmental Engineering Technology
NSCC Waterfront Campus