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SCI News

Kenya Safe Water Workshop  |  June 30, 2008

SCI has recently initiated a Safe Water Initiative and will incorporate simple and safe water testing into current international programs involving solar cooking and water pasteurization. SCI’s Board President and one of its founders, Bob Metcalf, is the ‘inventor’ of the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) that we are introducing to government ministries to assist with official water testing procedures at the grassroots level. Contacts made last year with officials from Kenya’s Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) and Ministry of Health (MOH)~ the leading institutions involved with clean water in Kenya, enabled representatives from each of these ministry’s primary locations throughout the country participate in the Safe Water Workshop provided by SCI in June, and in turn train others in their districts, who will then train others, and so on creating a trickle-down effect all the way to the village level.

Our goal is to provide a simple and inexpensive method of testing water in remote areas that heretofore has not been possible due to scarce laboratory facilities and costly transportation fees. This is a revolutionary process that will significantly increase the ability of EVERYONE in Kenya to know the quality of the water they drink, and to purify contaminated water with simple and inexpensive solar technologies. These are photos of the first of many Safe Water Workshops, which involved detailed instruction on specific PML water-testing techniques, importance of cleanliness and sanitation, and practical methods of treating contaminated water.

Bob introducing the Safe Water Workshop and getting acquainted with participants.

There were approximately 50 participants present for the workshop, 20 from WRMA and 20 from MOH

Bob at the front table with honored guests, preparing to start the workshop.

SCI's East Africa Director, Margaret Owino, introduces the staff and gives a brief on SCI's East Africa programs.

Bob and Faustine.

Some of the honored government guests who participated in the workshop.

A water sample from a local water source ~ collected in a Whirlpak, a sterilized plastic bag that can be flipped over itself to keep the sample sterile until testing.

Each Whirlpak is labeled and each sample is tested in two ways: in a test tube to test for presence of E-Coli, and on a Patrifilm to determine the number of E-Coli present in a sample.

Faustine Ofaba, John Rumberia and Bob Metcalf demonstrate before workshop participants.

Bob shows the petrifilm ~ a portable petri dish much more suitable for testing a number count of bacteria present in the bush.

Bob demonstrating the importance of keeping the test tubes sterile by opening them a certain way.

Each of the workshop participants tested some water from local sources, using the simple materials from the PML: Whirlpaks for collecting water samples, test tubes and petrifilms containing E-Coli indicating substances, and pipettes for sterile transference of water.

Faustine is our lead solar cooking trainer in the field, and has learned water testing quickly and tries to incorporate this process into as many solar cooking and water pasteurization projects as possible.

This photo depicts Faustine placing a test tube in her bra to incubate overnight. The final process of testing water with the PML is to incubate the tests for 12-24 hours ~ and the perfect temperature for incubation happens to be body temperature. (Let us learn from the chicken!) So when you're out in the bush without any modern amenities, incubating water samples on the body is the logical solution.

The incubation process is the part we've had the most resistance about ~ many (especially older) villagers equate incubating something on your body to voodoo, or just find it too weird. Even some of the government workers were uneasy with the process ~ these are the petrifilms that were left to incubate on the table overnight; an option (especially since it was warm out) but incubation takes much longer at inopportune temperatures.

This is a 'hay pouch' created by Mr. John Rumberia ~ a water testing expert from the village of Embu: understanding the cultural discomfort with incubating water samples on the body, John fashioned this method of incubating tests with a hot water bottle and a couple of cloth bags.

The process of this 'hay pouch' is modeled after the hay basket for it's insulative qualities ~ rather than incubate a water sample on one's body for 12-24 hours, it is possible to keep it warm in an incubating pouch like this one.

There was a Cholera outbreak a few weeks before the Safe Water Workshop, which was contained by the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) and Ministry of Health (MOH) by using the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML). Now that's a testimony!

Rose Namori is a Microbiology Scientist working for WRMA in Nairobi who performed extensive tests comparing the ability of the PML to test water in the field to testing performed in a formal laboratory facility. Thanks to Rose, it is widely accepted by Kenyan government ministries that the PML is a an effective means by which to treat water in areas without electricity or modern conveniences.

Rose was fundamental to this workshop, here she is seen assisting participants with water testing specifics, and the affirming report given by Rose at the workshop served to significantly reinforce the case for the PML use by government workers.

Bob was his usual animated self, instructing the class on water testing processing using the simple materials of the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML).

Solar cooking was, of course, a big part of the Safe Water Workshop in Kisumu, Kenya.

Dozens of solar cookers were set up an cooking various Africa dishes throughout the day.

Me and Faustine, our lead trainer and solar cooker extraordinaire.

During the Safe Water Workshop, our East Africa staff and SCOREPS (Solar Cooking Representatives) were busy cooking food with various Integrated Cooking methods: solar cookers, parabolic cookers, box cookers, hay baskets, etc.

Most Africa dishes cook extremely well in a solar cooker, since it is essentially a slow cooker and many local dishes are stew-like or rice-oriented. This staple green, called Sukoma Wiki (translated means to 'stretch out the week') cooks perfectly in a solar cooker.

Meat also cooks well in a solar cooker, and the result is a more tender, flavorful piece of meat, since it is slow cooked in it's own juices.

SCOREPS, staff and trainees from Burundi prepare a solar cooked feast for the workshop.

Anastasie ~ one of the trainees from nearby Burundi. Two women interested in establishing a solar cooking project at the church where they work came to Kenya for a 5-day training by SCI's East Africa Office.

One of our long-time SCOREPS (Solar Cooking Reps) cooking with the parabolic. Parabolics are the most powerful of the solar cooking devices ~ they focus the sun's heat on to a specific point on the pot, and provide temperatures easily adequate to fry food. While very effective, these types of cookers are high maintenance since very sensitive to even a slight change in the position, and prices are normally in the thousands.

A parabolic can fry meat as easily as any stovetop grill.

Fried bread is a popular item in many developing countries.

Serving food fried in a parabolic is an attention getter ~ the parabolic attracts attention with it's large size and flashy design. People are amazed that food can cook at all with only the power of the sun, and the hight price of the parabolic reinforces the practicality of the much lower priced CooKit.

A rice dish was brought to a boil in the parabolic in the morning, placed in a hay basket to finish cooking, and the dish was ready by lunch time.

Solar cookers set up outside the Safe Water Workshop.

SCI Staff and SCOREPS (Solar Cooker Reps) serving solar cooked food to workshop participants.

Solar cooked food.

Blowing on food, because yes ~ it gets that hot!

On the last day of the Safe Water Workshop, we all went on a field trip of the region where we were shown the sources of the water we tested over the course of the workshop:

A view of Lake Victoria ~ the largest lake in Africa, and the largest tropical lake in the world.

A man washing his clothes in Lake Victoria.

Bob with a water sample from Lake Vic.

Our driver ~ oh so fly.

The ladies from Burundi in our van... we had fun because...

...we were in the private Chicks Club!

Faustine pumps water from a well into a water jug. Water from pumps and especially deep wells normally turn out well in water tests.

Here is a good example of the differences simple education can make ~ while the water source may be good, simple placing a water jug in mud or water that may contain feces (and thereby possibly E-Coli) increases the possibility of bringing the disease into a home.

An elderly woman wanted to know what all the people were doing poking around her compound, looking at water sources....

John explained what we were doing, which was received with great interest by both madam and the rest of the compound dwellers ~ John and SCI staff promised to return to test their water and discuss solar water pasteurization with them.

Bike taxis in Kisumu, waiting for fares. The back racks are cushioned and you sit side-saddle... it's a strange sensation to move forward while facing sideways, especially when you don't have control of the unbalanced moving object!

A muddy stream ~ you can see in the front right of the pic the pumping mechanism, which takes this water to the processing plant about 1/4 of a mile away.

The water processing plant in Kisumu.

These trucks can be seen all over Kenya.

Local water suppliers filling up delivery vessels.

John Amayo, Project Supervisor for Sunny Solutions in Kadibo, waxes poetic about the importance of incorporating safe water in SCI's projects.

SCI's office in Kadibo, near the Western Gulf of Lake Victoria.

SCOREPS (Solar Cookers Representatives) gathering for the Anniversary Celebration outside SCI's Sunny Solutions Office in Katito ~ not far from Kadibo and also on Lake Victoria.

The grounds for SCI's 10-year Anniversary Celebration.

An innovative solar water trough ~ a device powered by the sun to heat and purify water for drinking.

Food cooking in a hay basket at the EARO 10 Anniversary Event.

One of the things SCI promotes in our endeavors is income generation ~ in other words, replacing the time that women spend walking miles to gather wood every day with another, more productive activity. All of the goods for sale on this table were made by this woman as a result of time saved with solar cooking.

The venue for the EARO 10th Anniversary Celebration.

SCI EARO's own Lead Trainer, Faustine Odaba, sporting tribal garb for the ceremony.

Faustine, myself, Rose and honored guests at SCI-EARO's 10 year Anniversary Celebration.

Singing and dancing ensued, as usual!

SCI's Sunny Solutions Lead Project Officer Dinah Chiengo demonstrates the uses and practicality of the CooKit for rural Kenya.

Members of SCI-US and SCI-EARO joining together to celebrate EARO's 10th Anniversary!

SCI's East Africa Regional Director, Margaret Owino, facilitates the Safe Water Workshop Awards Ceremony.

Bob preparing to speak at the Water Workshop Awards Ceremony.

Bob speaking at the Awards Ceremony.

Giving out awards at the ceremony.

During the ceremony we provided a stock of Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) materials to the heads of the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) of Kenya.

As deftly demonstrated by our own Simon Ogutu, dancing is an integral part of every celebration in Africa.

Cleophas Onono was the Team Leader for the Sunny Solutions Evaluation executed by Archway Technology Management. The professional evaluation was intended to in provide an accurate and useful portrayal of Sunny Solutions' accomplishments to learn from and continue with, and identification of areas to improve effectiveness and productivity. I was able to attend the initial Stakeholders Meeting involving
brainstorming sessions with local health workers, hotel/food vendors, development agents, fuel vendors, government workers, teachers and local solar cooks discussing benefits, challenges and techniques of solar cooking in the community.

Participants at Stakeholders Meeting.

Speaking participant.

Margaret speaking at Stakeholders Meeting.

The Greenbelt Center is home to Wangari Maathai's Green Belt Movement: Dr. Maathai is one of Kenya's most respected environmental and political activists. In 2004 she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots environmental non-governmental organization, which has now planted over 40 million trees across Kenya to prevent soil erosion, empower women in their daily lives and preserve one of Kenya's most precious commodities. The Green Belt Center is a meeting place for many environmental movements, home to a great number of trees, plants and gardens and just a pleasant place to be.

This is the 'main-house' at the Green Belt Center ~ a cushy, pretty, pillowy, extremely comfortable atmosphere that only a women-oriented commune can provide.

Trees, trees and m ore trees is the theme here.

The African Women and Water Conference organized by environmental nonprofits A Single Drop, Women's Earth Alliance, Crabgrass and GROOTS Kenya, was a week-long workshop to instruct 32 women from 16 Africa countries (teams of 2) in various water treatment and sanitation methods. Incorporating solar cooking and water pasteurization techniques, along with water testing skills taught with the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML), SCI was an integral part of this workshop, and lucky we were to be a part of it.

This is the Demo Hall where most of the training took place during the Africa Women and Water Conference.

This is a slow sand filter and it's mold. A slow sand filter purifies water by progressively layering organic material of decreasing size inside a cylindrical container; beginning with small stones, next layering pebbles, then coarse gravel, sand, then fine sand at the top. Water is poured over the layers and when it comes out at the bottom ~ voila! A slow sand filter is slow, and can be burdensome to make, but it works very well with natural ingredients that can be found just about anywhere.

These are some organic materials ready to be put into the filter.

Mariah Klingsmith will be following up on the 30 workshop participants over the next year ~ visiting their various villages in their respective countries. Mariah already had a great blog set up and her updates are regular: http://mariahsadventures-africa.blogspot.com/

Gemma is the founder of A Single Drop ~ a safe water nonprofit based in the Philippines and the organizer of the African Women and Water Conference. Gemma was so impressed with SCI Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) that she will be hosting Bob in the Philippines early next year, so that he can introduce SCI's safe water project to A Single Drop and the many environmental nonprofits that Gemma has ties with in the Philippines.

Bob was able to coach Mariah extensively on the Safe Water Program and the PML preceding the workshop. She was given a CooKit and pot, WAPI and PML materials so that she can teach and provide consultations on her year-long journey.

Here are a few pix of our East Africa office and staff, based in Nairobi:

The CooKit as made by our East Africa Regional Office (EARO) in Kenya. They have added the purple tape on the edges to protect it from the elements, which is a great addition. All of the CooKits in Africa are handmade, and every workshop trains its participants how to obtain materials and construct their own solar cookers.

Our East Africa Regional Office (EARO) in Nairobi. This is the main hub in East Africa for solar cooking information, materials and training.

EARO front room.

Lucy and Stella Odaba ~ Faustine's daughters and two of SCI's stellar employees. Stella heads the Kajiado office a few hours south of Nairobi and works primarily in the Masai region of Kenya. Lucy works closer to Nairobi and is the lead expert at making Hay Baskets ~ her work is unsurpassed!

A trainee from Burundi making a Hay Basket under Lucy's instruction.

Margaret at her desk @ the EARO.

Elijah Achola ~ our trusty Fiscal Manager at SCI's EARO.

I'm so proud of our East Africa office and staff and projects!



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