Thursday, August 29, 2013

Days 9 - 19: Setting up pipes and tanks

The past 10 days have been dedicated to setting up the piping, tanks, and spigots, so that as soon as the pump is installed, water can be pumped up to the tanks from the borehole and accessed at the spigots. As always, the work has been grueling but rewarding. Christine, Erin, and Robbie joined our team in Ghana on the 12th. 

Here, Christine is carrying gravel to put into the trenches to stabilize the pipes.

Erin and Robbie clear the trench of debris before laying the pipe down.

Robbie works on cleaning and gluing PVC pipes together.

Erin carries PVC pipes from the storage location in the chiefs' palace to the worksite.

The piping is almost complete - just one more PVC length until we reach the tank connection .

Robbie, Christine, Mira, Sammy, Lucas, Erin, Leerang, and Kofi stand proudly before the fully connected tanks.

We were unable to find valve boxes (apparently these are not made or sold in Ghana) so we improvised them out of 6-inch HDPE pipes and PVC pipe caps. The kids figured out that our "valve boxes" made excellent drums and serenaded us all afternoon.

Wise Water Engineering, our electrician contractors, installed the meter board for the power supply. Here they are installing a copper grounding rod, using water and a hoe to dig the hole for the rod. 

Mira, Christine, and Erin were invited to speak at the girls' secondary school in Obodan. We explained the project we are working on in Obodan, and then we encouraged the girls to study hard in school, especially math and science, in order to bring development to their own villages. Hopefully we've encouraged some of the girls to become engineers like us!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Days 5 - 9: The Buildup

The past few days have been jam packed with activity at the project site. Our orders of polytanks and PVC piping have arrived in Obodan from Accra. The whole community pitched in to carry the tank to the slab site since the path was too narrow for the delivery truck.

One of our biggest challenges so far is rallying the community to dig the trenches. We had expected most of the trenching to be completed when we arrived but there had been some miscommunication in trenching depth, trenching location, and property concerns, so most of this past week has been dedicated to digging and redigging. Many community members understand the value of putting in a hard day's work to benefit the village, and so they have been helping gather others to pich in. Hopefully in the next couple days we can complete our necessary 1000 feet of trenching.


We are quite certain that this water distribution would not be on schedule were it not for a foreman named Ado. He is living in Obodan because he is working on a secondary school government project, but has the time to help us since his project has been delayed. His expertise in masonry, steelbending, electrician work, plumbing work, and borehole drilling have been vital to keeping our project's timeframe. Below we have the full team pictured:

Top row, left to right: Ado (foreman), Obanzu (taxi driver), Kelly (mentor), Leerang Mira
Bottom row, left to right: Kofi, Sammy (assemblyman), Lucas

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Akwaaba! Summer 2013 Trip Begins

Greetings from Ghana!

Team 1 (Mira, Lucas, Kofi, Kelly, and Leerang) has safely landed in Ghana and started working on the water distribution project.We are staying at a newly opened hotel called the Spino Lodge near Sammy's farm, and we have been in Obodan every day.

In the past three days, we have begun contacting contractors, inspecting the community's work on the piping trenches, working on the slab, and holding community meetings. We are hiring many local skilled laborers and contractors for this project. The community has pitched in many hours of labor to help.

Kofi, Leerang, Lucas, and Mira meet with Wise Water Engineering representatives. These contractors will help with electric work.

We spoke with the Obodan water committee about their collection of fees at the existing boreholes and about future fee collection for the electric pump system. They reported that fee collection has increased since last year, and the funds have been used around the community for streetlights and a public market. They plan to hire older women who cannot work elsewhere to attend the spigots, and these women will receive a percentage of the monthly collected fees. We emphasized the importance of saving the money to pay for electric bills and incidental repairs and replacements.

Our biggest meeting so far has been with the general community. Kofi, a Columbia student who grew up in Accra, addressed the community to explain the new water system and answer any questions or concerns they had. The biggest concern was employment, now that basic needs have been met with EWB sponsored infrastructure. We explained that our organization does not offer employment or business solutions, but we promised to look into microfinance NGOs to help Obodan reach new levels of development. We are pleased to see the community has independently reached the conclusion that economic development is now their top prioirty.

Kofi speaks on behalf of Columbia University EWB at the community meeting