From March 18-22, Maji Safi Group represented the Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network and the Lake Zone WASH Forum at the 27th annual National Tanzania Water Week celebration, which was held in Musoma this year. The Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (TAWASANET) was founded in 2008 to create a network of Tanzanian civil society organizations that work in the water and sanitation sector. It strives to increase sharing between civil society organizations, promote partnerships between civil society and other sector stakeholders, build the capacity of civil society in the water and sanitation sector, and strengthen the voice of civil society in national policy debates. Furthermore, TAWASANET is promoting the formation of local WASH networks to strengthen impact and efficiency. Maji Safi Group serves as the representative for the Mara Region in the Lake Zone WASH Forum.
The MSG team that traveled to Water Week included three Community Health Workers (Diana Nguka, Mwamvua Saba, and Jared Owaga Ongati), MSG Community Arts Coordinator (Jacky Lucas), MSG Programs Manager (Susan Waltisberg), MSG Director of Operations (Bruce Maj Pelz), and MSG Executive Director (Max Perel-Slater). The team was busy all week teaching lessons on how to prevent disease and giving practical demonstrations on AfriPads, hand washing, and household water treatment methods like chlorine, Solar Disinfection (SODIS), and ceramic filters.
As always, MSG made disease prevention very engaging by combining creative and artistic activities with our health education. Jacky created an amazing banner for the Maji Safi Group tent that depicted possible contamination routes of water sources and potential treatment options. Throughout the week, Tanzanians from all over the country stopped by to check out the artwork and even take pictures! The CHWs and staff also used songs and interactive art projects to make our message resonate with our young visitors. Children of all ages waited, sometimes in long lines, in front of our pavilion to get the chance to draw and paint with Jacky and the CHWs. Meanwhile, the other staff members were teaching adults about water treatment and disease prevention. During Water Week, MSG’s booth reached 2,013 adults and 1,799 children from all over Tanzania who were thrilled to receive our health education.
The CHWs and Jacky also took many pictures of Water Week. It is great to see how our staff can now transfer the knowledge they get in our workshops to their photography. Our CHWs took all the pictures in this blogpost, except the group picture.
Water Week was also an amazing opportunity for the MSG staff to network with other organizations in the Tanzanian water sector and learn about new household water treatment methods. One organization that MSG had particular synergy with was the District Council of Temeke who does disease prevention work similar to ours in the Dar es Salaam area. While the two organizations work in very different settings (urban compared to rural), we were able to compare experiences with teaching the community and make plans to visit each other’s programs.
Furthermore, the MSG Community Health Workers and staff were able to check out new products for household water treatment. We heard about a new ceramic filter design from Davis and Shirtliff that uses low-cost filter elements. Additionally, we learned about a new type of chlorine tablet that uses sodium chlorite and does not leave a taste or smell in the water after treatment. The MSG staff took home samples of these products for testing to assess if we should integrate them into our lessons.
On World Water Day (March 22), the Vice President of Tanzania, Mohamed Gharib Bilal, visited our booth and commented that our work is crucial for the health and development of Tanzania! Overall, the week was an amazing opportunity for MSG to teach community members from across Tanzania, get significant exposure in the water sector, and create opportunities for cooperation with other WASH organizations.