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USAID and Coca-Cola work with Ohio State’s Global Water Institute to improve water access in Tanzania

Global Water Institute has developed the Sustainable Village Water Systems model to develop sustainable and appropriately sized wells.

A project at The Ohio State University to bring more sustainable water access to Tanzania reached a milestone this week.

Today the United States Agency for International Development and The Coca Cola Foundation, through their Water and Development Alliance (WADA) global partnership, commemorated the launch of activities that will transform the lives of more than 70,000 rural Tanzanians. According to their press release, Coca-Cola Foundation and USAID are supporting project activities with a combined investment of more than $1 million, primarily focused on an innovative water access project.

For Marty Kress, executive director of the Global Water Institute at Ohio State, the announcement helps move the institute’s Sustainable Village Water Systems program forward.

“The Ohio State model for sustainable water systems being deployed through this WADA project is focused not just on the installation of wells but also on the deployment of sustainable operating systems,” Kress said.

According to USAID, Tanzania has been facing unprecedented water stress. Rural villages often rely on out-of-date and inefficient technology for their water systems. That can lead to lack of access to clean water.

The Global Water Institute has developed the Sustainable Village Water Systems model to develop sustainable and appropriately sized wells. Sustainable Village Water Systems include a clean source of renewable energy, improved sanitation at clinics and schools, and a direct linkage to economic activities such as agriculture, aquaponics or micro-manufacturing.

The WADA Tanzania project will install or upgrade solar-powered water systems while providing water service entrepreneur training and hyrology research in 36 villages identified by the Tanzanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation across the Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Mara, Mwanza, Singida and Tabora regions. This work will be complemented by sanitation and sustainable agriculture activities implemented in collaboration with WaterAid.

“There can be too much emphasis in installing the well. Our model is installing the well and making sure it’s operational 10 years from now,” Kress said. So in parallel with this activity, GWI is already working with WaterAidto layer each village with health, sanitation and agriculture.

The key to success is a business model that requires ownership of the well and a commitment to investment in maintenance and support, Kress said. Under the Ohio State model, standardized systems using common parts and technology are critical for long-term sustainability

He said there is also a commitment to research.

“We are also funding hydrology research to create date base of hydrology resources for the Ministry of Water and Irrigation so in the future, we hope that every time we drill a new well, we have water table research that depicts the health of the aquifer before we drill down,” he said.

Kress said an eventual next step in the Global Water Institute’s mission is to take the model to Zambia and Kenya.

WADA Tanzania is being implemented by a consortium of partners led by Ohio State and managed in Tanzania by Majitech, an engineering firm that is a subsidiary of WorldServe International. Together, WorldServe International and Waterboys, an American charity founded by NFL athlete Chris Long, are contributing $1 million in co-financing to scale project activities.