Solar Still Primary Research & Outcomes


An Unforgettable Experience!

First post back in Canada following the trip! What can I say, I think I speak for everyone when I say it was an unforgettable experience from the people we met to the sights we saw. We also had a great team that went down and there were many memories made. The people of Longido welcomed us and our research with open arms and were quite excited about the project we were working on.
The Water Tanks at the TEMBO Guesthouse

Some General Notes

During the wet season there is usually quite a heavy rainfall where the water just sheets off the land but does not soak in because it is coming down so hard. During the rainy season it makes more sense for TEMBO and the Maasai to focus on collecting rainwater because it is readily available during the wet season but there is a lack of infrastructure to capture and store the rainwater. This isn’t the case every year though, in 2009 the Longido region received only 78 mm of rainfall that year in an extreme drought. Most years they can expect 400-500mm of rainfall which could be harvested.

But, during the dry season water is a scarce resource and this is a perfect opportunity to make the solar still a viable solution. The solar still runs on sunlight and has no costs after the initial purchase. During the dry season any water people purchase or can draw from the tap is precious and re-used as many times as possible. For example, at the guesthouse Caroline will use the water to do laundry and then with that water she will mop the floors. Once the water has been used it is called greywater. A solar still can take greywater and treat it which will allow it to be re-used as irrigation for the garden, laundry, or dish water.

Laundry at TEMBO Guesthouse

Greywater at the Guesthouse

A big shout out to Caroline who was gracious enough to take us on a tour of the guesthouse’s water facilities and point out a lot of interesting issues they currently face. I would also like to thank Virginia for taking the time to sit down and talk with us about her ideas of improving the water system at the guesthouse as well as Alanna and Avery for their input on the project.
Currently laundry consumes the greatest proportion of water of all the activities at the guesthouse. On average the laundry is done 4 times per week and consumes approximately 100L of water per day. It is also a very time consuming task as it takes about four hours to complete. The first 50L of water is thrown back down the drain because it contains a high concentration of soap and will kill the plants if used for irrigation water. Caroline said they use the second 50L as mop water because it is the second rinse and therefore contains a much lower concentration of chemicals than the first rinse or washing water.

When the guesthouse is full it can go through a lot of water in two days. The tap coming in from the mountain cannot supply enough water, especially during the dry season. During the dry season the guesthouse has to import drinking water from the surrounding area by truck which is very expensive and sometimes isn't good enough to drink.

Caroline also identified an opportunity for the toilets to be flushed with greywater but the system was not operational while we were there. The original intent was to use bucket showers and pour the greywater into the back of the tank to use as flush for the toilets. Right now the toilets consume good clean water and flush it down the drain as blackwater but there is room for improvement here. 

One of four TEMBO washrooms

Mid Trip Project Direction Update

When we flew over to Tanzania the original intent was to build a solar still for the guesthouse that would allow greywater to be treated and re-used as irrigation water for the plants. After the first few days of observation and design exercises with my partners Alanna (Engineer) and Avery (Business student) we had identified another potential usage of the still in Longido.

We thought the hospital represented a perfect opportunity for a still because the doctor told us the patients have to supply their own water during the dry season. If it is not suitable they have to turn down the patient because it would not be healthy to treat them with unsafe water. We proposed a still for the hospital because the patient would be able to bring their water, treat it on site, and get the treatment they need. At this point in the project we had two branches; we could either pursue the project at the hospital or at the TEMBO guesthouse. We chose to continue developing the TEMBO project at this point because they were looking to find their niche in the guesthouse community in Longido and there were a lot of ‘red tape’ questions about who would build and maintain and pay for the system at the hospital.


Presentation with the Village Leaders

Our team presenting our idea and prototype to the village leaders.
We met with 9 members of the Longido community and surrounding area who were chairmen, village representatives, executive officers, food and water advisors, TEMBO staff, and members of Green Arusha. We presented to them the idea of a solar still to be built on TEMBO guesthouse grounds. The still would function as a demonstration project for the Longido community and help TEMBO find their niche as a guesthouse in Longido in water usage.  

My render from the presentation of the still on TEMBO grounds.

After hearing our presentation and viewing the prototype I had built, the feedback given to us was the following:
  •   Are the materials required to build the still available locally or within Tanzania?
  • It would be great to be able to save water and won’t need to import as much water during the drought
  •  It could be used to water the garden and sell the vegetables that are grown as a revenue source for the guesthouse
  • Who will facilitate the project if it is to be used as a demonstration project? 

It was encouraging to hear that Caroline and other members of the community were really interested in the idea of a solar still and conserving water, especially during the dry season when it is so scarce. This positive community feedback solidified the viability of the solar still concept for water re-use in Longido. We also received feedback from the professors about designing a whole greywater system around the still for the guesthouse. The next steps are to begin prototyping and clarifying the design direction.

You may also like

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.