Africa visit to deliver impactful humanitarian engineering for the schools and communities of Babati District

In December UOW’s Faculty of Social Sciences (SOC) Associate Dean Research, Professor Lisa Kervin and Executive Manager, Katrina Gamble travelled with the Executive Manager of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences (EIS), Lorelle Pollard, Dave Walker, a Humanitarian Engineer from EIS, and three humanitarian engineering students to Babati, Tanzania.

The visit is hopefully the start of a long and fruitful collaboration for SOC, EIS and local partner So They Can to deliver impactful humanitarian engineering outcomes for the schools and communities of Babati District.

During the trip the group travelled through adverse conditions to reach Manyara School, a school which Lisa and Katrina had the chance to visit in February 2019.

Lorelle said trying to get to Manyara school, which is approx 1 hour from Bibati, Tanzania, to look at prospective projects for HUMA472 students, was “a big advenutre”.

Manyara School

“The trip should have taken an hour each way, but it took us six hours to get there and five and half hours to get back to town.  We only got back because we had a tractor with us to pull our 4WDs out of bogs,” she said.

The group were visiting during their short rain season, “which was longer by a month at that stage, and heavier than usual.”

“But we had had the most incredible welcome when we did finally arrive,” said Lorelle.

During the first visit in February Manyara Primary School was identified as a potential site for a SOC and EIS collaborative humanitarian engineering experience.

In Rwanda, the classroom built and water tank installed in 2017 by UOW students.

This amazing and definitely under-resourced school services an isolated community with a significant number of the students coming from the nomadic tribe, Barabaig. Many of the students live at the school during the term and have had to fight for the right to be educated. Conditions are challenging with classrooms, living quarters, etc. of limited numbers and poor quality. 

Throughout the jam packed two days in Babati they were able to engage in a number of high-level consultations with the school community, staff of So They Can and Government officials (ward and district) to establish a clear list of three priority areas for Manyara School. These are:

  • Additional classrooms
  • Renovation/restoration of girls dormitory
  • Solutions for water harvesting to secure water supply to the school and the local community

Further discussions between SOC, EIS and So They Can will develop the feasibility of how we might further engagement. It is hoped that a joint student program will see the realisation of one or more of the school priority areas. This program is slated for late June 2020.

Story republished from Faculty of Social Sciences. Read original here.