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  • Jennifer Mueller

Water Tanks galore!


On May 18th, I left for three months to the Kenyan village where I lived for two years in the Peace Corps. I went with funds from Water Charity to start a business making interlocking stabilized soil bricks and build 10 water tanks using said bricks. This is their story.

Week one

Observations after 17 years away. No person has changed they are all as generous and hospitable and caring as they were 17 years ago when I left. Many I meet in the street talk of being at our pre-wedding party, far too many I recognize the face but after so many years the myriad of names have eluded me. After only a week I rarely get muzungu anymore, my name is called by most except by small children. Even school kids I'm not sure I have met come up calling me by name to a grown ups amazement as they had just found out I was around.

Now to the fact that while the people have stayed the same nothing is the same. Everyone has a cellphone, or two. Everything that I used to have to go 4 hours away in Nairobi I can now do in Embu 14 kilometers away. Kiritiri is not the market I left. The small market surrounded by a single street is now 5 or so across. 3 story and higher buildings abound. Miraa which no one ever sold here is now a major cash crop, but everyone says it is a bad thing as youths hang around now. Sound familiar. I can buy ramen noodles in the little duka a minute walk from my house something that I could only get in Nairobi before. 2 liter bottles of coke too. Most of the little things that I saw as a luxury from home are now for sale in my not so little market. Other than to see some animals now that I am settled (read my phone internet is working) I might not have to leave again.

The other 11 weeks.

Training to use the machines. They were made by Makiga Engineering a Nairobi firm.

Our first brick made

The boys, students from Iriamurai Polytechnic. They are learning how to be fundis, skilled workers with wood and masonry primarily. They were hired when the women decided they needed more energy to make the bricks. Each batch used about 2 truck loads of murram, 3 bags of cement, and some water.

The first bricks we made.

With the bricks underway fundis were hired to start making slabs the tanks would sit on.

With the slab cured the walls using our new bricks were started. Each tank took 330 bricks.

Each tank was a meter high in theory we had a little problem getting the fundis to accept as a new technology that they didn't need as much mortar as standard stone building so they ended up about a foot taller than planned. Our 5,000 liter tank is rather more than planned.

They were then plastered on the outside.

And the inside with waterproof cement. Floor and walls as shown above and below.

With a tin roof, the first tank was finished.

But we had as many as 5 job sites going at once. The boys from the polytechnic after they were on school break came by wanting to get practice plastering as well as three fundis.

I ran out of time so I am waiting for the final photos of the finished work to come from Kenya. But until the last ones come, here are the last two tanks fully finished while I was there.

I'll update when I have the other 7 photos.

The boys used some extra materials to help fix up the oldest memebers' home.

#kenya #watertanks

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