WATER shortage has adversely affected a large section of women in Tanzania, especially in rural areas. They encounter multiple losses, in that they use a lot of their precious time and energy seeking water.
Falling in this category, are students from different institutions. It is a common knowledge that at the end of the day, what these poor women get is little water, at times not clean or safe for human consumption. Engineer Hamis Mikate, the managing director of ENSOL Tanzania Limited, a company that supplies solar power equipment, says days are numbered for such trouble to women.
Solar power, or energy created by the sun, can be harnessed in a number of ways, including through solar panels that convert the sun's rays into electricity. In the case of a solar pump, solar energy is converted into electricity and fed to a pump that circulates water. These types of units can be used in fountains and water supply be made easier to customers and as well as for agricultural projects. There are two main types of solar pumps.
Surface pumps sit above ground and move water through pipes. These are handy for moving large quantities of water at a slow pace. Surface pumps are commonly found on farms or large irrigation systems where water needs to be moved from a lake or other body to fields or landscaping. There are also submersible solar water pumps. These units are installed underground, but the solar panels are connected above ground.
Submersible pumps are used to move water from inside wells to the surface. Engineer Mikate is of a considered opinion that solar power pumps are what women should look for now, as ENSOL has been more than willing to get behind the creative idea and fight for it, for betterment of the community at large. The pumps, says Mikate, are environmental friendly as they only feed on sun radiation.
The pumps will help students keep with their academic programmes instead of wasting a lot of time searching for water. As such, the pumps may be a tool for restoration of ethics and discipline among students, as some have been using water shortage as an excuse for the truancy. In families, may be the most needed thing now, marriage breakup might be saved, as long and undestined journey for wives are bound to end.
It is thought that some women use such journeys to meet new lovers, while other men just suspect their wives of having affairs with other men. Solar energy pumps are essential ingredient in agriculture, as they have been designed to increase efficiency and productivity, hence higher and quality yields.
Engineer Mikate is of a settled view that with solar energy pumps at hand, women can concentrate and be productive in other sectors, such as family care, hence mark the end of terror ages, for good. Solar water pumps are used in supply of water from different sources, as well as uphill pumping to tanks, before distribution is done to customers.
In an exclusive interview with engineer Mikate in his NSSF Ubungo office, he would not be convinced to give a deaf ear to women's call over water shortage problem and others emanating from it. He says the pumps with modern technology is a solution to water challenges facing not only families, but also institutions such as schools, colleges, health centres as well as hospitals.
The best thing about the pumps as far as environment is concerned, is that they can be trusted even in livestock keeping that is not harmful to water sources. The engineer is upbeat that the pumps might be used as a unifying tool between politicians and citizens, as they can be correctly be singled out to end voters' water botherations, even in rural areas. What a better friend can people have than the one who shows up during difficulties?
ENSOL have what it makes of such a friend and are geared to help Tanzanians out of their looming monster. Godwin Msigwa is a marketing manager for ENSOL, who reiterates that the pumps can be used in fight against environmental degradation, emanating from reckless livestock keeping that is fatal for water sources.
"There is no doubt that this is a great challenge, we have to save water sources but we cannot go without keeping cattle...we need meat, milk and money as well. How can herders get enough water for their cattle? "Being safe at bay on this is getting a special drinking area for cattle as well as a washing place. After that water can be pumped from different sources without endangering such sources," says Msigwa.
The fact that many herders reside in areas without energy makes the solar pumps all the more important, as such many people cannot be ignored, just because there is no electricity. Engineer Mikate emphasizes of a need to boost agriculture by using the pumps, as it is well known that it is the backbone of the country's economy.
Moreover, water solar pumps are modern, save time and are not too expensive for one to get. Efficiency and productivity cannot be achieved by using poor or obsolete materials, especially irrigating equipment in a large area at short time. "These are the correct pumps in executing Kilimo Kwanza initiative, whereby among other things, irrigation is emphasized," he says. He is without any doubt on advantages of solar power use in agriculture, as he says both - drip irrigation and flood irrigation bring about robust yields.
He is one of the proponents to Kilimo Kwanza initiative in Tanzania, saying that it is highly needed in the country. The problem had been, he says, many areas have no electricity, but water solar pumps have come in time to answer the call. No need to use water pumps or carry water manually any more. As for water in large communities such as churches, the engineer says the equipment is capable of pumping water from underground wells as far as 400 metres.
"This is not a small task, but our pumps perform it effectively, pumping it upward to big tanks and thereafter supply can be made to priests and nuns residences, kitchen and any other areas in need of water, such as gardens and even in fields," he echoes. Speaking on problems facing students, the engineer says they go to school late or do not go at all, because they have to travel a great distance to fetch water.
Even if they attend school on time, they are tired and psychologically handicapped, because of the main problem facing them - water. After school they have to fetch water still, cook and do other activities that leave them practically with no time to study or prepare for next day lessons. "To a greater extent this problem affects girls, as they use most of their time searching for water, and they are influenced to early sexual relationship," Mikate says.
Now that the pumps are in place, city dwellers as well as villagers can use well their precious time, as water will be in their neighbourhoods. Thus, students, male and female alike, will have no excuse for failure in proper following of lessons and school timetable, the result of which is courses completion with flying colours.
As for politicians, Mikate says any careful leader will make sure citizens get clean water at affordable distance by coordinating the process in which every area will have enough water solar pumps. The better thing about Tanzania is that there is no sunrays scarcity anywhere in her borders, so what is needed is constructing wells by using experts.
It is ENSOL's submission that solar water pumps users can break even between one and a half years to four, depending on project type and investment level. There is still something to smile about solar water pumps, as they go without need for servicing from time to time. Also running costs are very low, as opposed to diesel pumps or electricity bills.
However, because of their efficiency, the pumps are said to catch criminals' eyes, hence they are to be kept in safe places. It is better to construct a special booth or make use of guides. We are in capitalism, but socialism attitudes still feature a lot, and one of them is citizens working together in self help groups. They can, with such spirit, spearhead to buy and maintain water pumps in groups or cooperative societies.