and More Projects in Partnership
with the Pommern Community

Pommern Water Project


January 2015 - Update

"The old paths to the river are now dead."

In November 2014 we visited Pommern on our fourth service trip with Global Volunteers.  Edward Mgeni, Tanzania Country Manager and Team Leader, told us how people no longer need to tread the their old paths to the river to fetch water now that the water system is operating and bringing them water.  He led us on an extensive tour of the water distribution points and gave us considerable information about the positive impact it is having on the Pommern community, and we met many of the users. 

The system serves about 2,500 people in Pommern, including about 1,000 students and faculty at the government Primary School (day students) and the private Secondary School (boarding students).  There are 35 water stations throughout Pommern and they are located to be convenient to and serve about ten families each.  Each station is located near a resident who agrees to maintain the station and to report any problems.  We estimated that the system extends at least two kilometers out from the central water storage tanks to the most distant water station where people can draw water.  See the Pommern Photo Gallery for more photos of water stations in the January 2015 System Update album.

As part of the community’s effort to convey a personal sense of ownership in users, all users are assessed a monthly charge of 500 Tanzanian Schillings (Tshs), or about 30 cents.  The money is collected by the Secondary School Treasurer and kept in an account on behalf of the system’s management committee.  The collected money is enough to maintain the system and to pay a maintenance worker to regularly check the length of the main pipeline and repair leaks.

Some community members with additional financial resources have applied to the committee to have a water line brought to their home and installed in the “courtyard” of their home area.  These members agreed to pay a higher fee of 3,000 Tshs or about $1.80 per month, to maintain their station, and to make its water available to their nearby neighbors.

In addition to providing ready access to drinking water, the PWP is delivering water for construction purposes.  We noted a significant increase in the number of new-looking homes in Pommern.  The accessible water allows residents to build homes with more cement and brick, making them more durable over many years.  These customers generally draw water during the night into storage tanks when demand is low for drinking uses.


The women and children of Tanzania get the daily water for the household.  The system is significantly reducing their daily burden of energy and time to gather the many liters of water needed each day for cooking and drinking by greatly shortening the distance they must travel to get that water.  Edward told us of one incident in which a woman slipped into the river while fetching water and drowned.  Many people have begun growing more vegetables for their own diet and for sale due to the better access to water.  At the Primary and Secondary Schools, water comes directly into the school kitchens now.  Before, each school had to take an entire class of students out of their classroom for hours at a time to fetch water for their school kitchen’s daily cooking needs.

The system still lacks a means to purify the water.  Purification was part of the original plan and Edward is working diligently to resolve this issue.  He has consulted with local experts and no sustainable solution is currently available.  Until a solution is found, water users are still advised to boil their water.  He continues to seek a solution that does not require any outside mechanical power or tools.

It is a great credit to the Pommern community that they had the vision of what they needed and knew what would work and just needed outside financial assistance to make it possible.  This system is their own, not one pushed on them by an outside organization that does not fit the local reality of what is really needed and what can and cannot be sustained by the local community with local resources.

June 2014 - Update

The water system has expanded considerably in the past two years.  A fence has been built around the water storage tanks.  Numerous smaller distribution pipes have been emplaced from the central storage tanks out to distribution points throughout the village by the community workers and Global Volunteers teams to increase the community’s access to water.  The water system operates under the authority of a local committee that is responsible for operating the system and collecting small recurring user fees to cover costs of maintenance labor and materials.

From information we’ve received from the community, the water system is greatly benefiting the community:

  • Truancy in the Primary School has dropped now that students are not taken out of classes for long periods to obtain water for the School’s use.
  • There are fewer disruptions to teaching schedules in the Secondary School now that water is nearby.
  • Much of community, especially women, can get water more easily for their families and homes and not walk long distances to find water.
  • Village quality of life is improved by easier access to water compared to other communities that do not have a similar water system.See the Pommern Photo Gallery for more photos of the water system in use.
January 2012 - Construction Update
Work is underway to lay distribution pipes from the water storage tanks near the Medical Clinic to the community.  Students from the government Primary School dug the trench for the pipe to their school, and members of the local Lutheran church dug the trench along the road to a point near the church that will be accessible to nearby residents.  Global Volunteers teams assisted in this work.  By the end of January, water stations were in place near the Primary school, Secondary school, Lutheran church, Medical Clinic, and two immediately near numerous homes.  See the Pommern Photo Gallery for more photos of work in progress.  Further updates and photos will be added as we get them.
November 2011 - Dedication!

(See below for November 2011 construction update, and see the Pommern Photo Gallery for additional Dedication photos.)

On November 23, 2011 the Pommern community gathered for a huge dedication ceremony for the Pommern Water Project and we were there to help celebrate!  Bishop Mdegella of the Iringa Diocese, ELCT, was the guest of honor.  There were three large choirs – a congregation choir from the Lutheran church, a Secondary School choir, and a Primary School choir.  At least 300 hundred people attended or participated in the celebration.

The choirs led a large procession from the Mission House, up the road past the Medical Clinic, to the water storage platform.  Representatives of the Lutheran church, Roman Catholic church, village government, the regional water district, and both of us were in the procession.  Bishop Mdegella brought up the very rear.

The procession moved to the water storage platform to bless the new water system.  The chairman of the local Pommern Water Project Task Force read aloud a project report.  We helped unveil a commemorative plaque.  The plaque was removed and three local children placed a copy of the project report, the Lutheran catechism, and a Global Volunteers emblem behind it, then the plaque was replaced and sealed in place.

We then moved to the concrete basin and faucet where we ceremoniously helped two women fill water buckets and place them on their heads.  We were afraid we might tip the buckets over, but we didn’t and all was fine.

The Bishop and all of us next moved to a cleared area on the other side of the platform where the ground had been cleared and smoothed as a large performance area.  An enclosure was built earlier of eucalyptus saplings, rough planks and bright cloth for us “VIPs” and we took our seats there.  We enjoyed beautiful performances by the three choirs, and especially from the Primary School choir.  Each dance and song had a theme of the benefits of water to the community.  Some songs included simple skits of drinking water or planting and watering seeds.

Then followed remarks or statements by many of the guests, including Haran Ngede for the Secondary School, a representative of the local village government, the head of the regional water district, and the Roman Catholic priest.  We spoke and thanked many people and organizations by name for their support and assistance.  One of the local Lutheran pastors stood with us and translated our English into Kiswahili for the audience.  Last to speak was Bishop Mdegella who spoke of the importance of this water project, the need to properly sustain it, and the need for good leadership.  The ceremony concluded when the Bishop presented us with sections of fabric – a beautiful kanga for Mimi and a print fabric for Eric to use for a shirt.  We really appreciated the gifts and thanked Bishop Mdegella for his consideration!

The official day concluded with about 30 guests gathering in the Mission House for a meal of rice, beans, beef, chicken, and bananas.  Two reporters from the Iringa Diocese radio station interviewed us.

More work is ahead.  The rest of the trench will be filled in.  At least four more concrete and brick boxes for air valves will be built along the pipeline.  The air valves will be installed in the boxes.  The 2-inch pipe will be rerouted to the storage tanks, they will be connected together, and a pipe will exit to a distribution manifold.  The manifold will send water through valves to 1-inch pipes for final distribution.  Trenches will be dug and 1-inch pipes will be buried and faucets will be installed.  The platform will get a roof and fence.  Chemical purification will be added to the storage tanks to help clean the water.

And many, many people will benefit from easy and reliable access to water.

As we learn of more progress and get photos from Edward, we will continue to post updates here to help everyone know how the Pommern Water Project is progressing.

November 2011 - Construction Update

(See the Pommern Photo Gallery for additional new photos)

Water is flowing to Pommern!

Much has happened since our September report.  Edward Mgeni, the Global Volunteers Tanzania Country Manager and construction project manager, did a wonderful job continuing the construction and keeping things on schedule.  Following our August – September 2011 service trip to Pommern, the Pommern Water Project purchased and laid the pipeline from the Intake to the water storage platform.  The pipeline is a two-inch heavy plastic pipe material that comes rolled in 150 meter lengths.  Over 50 sections were purchased in Dar es Salaam, enough for the entire pipeline length as well as some spares.  The pipe material was transported in two separate tractor-trailer shipments.  Mohamed Kassim, the Global Volunteers Assistant Team Leader and Driver, escorted each truck separately on its three day journey out of Dar es Salaam through Morogoro, Mikumi National Park, the Udzungwa Mountains, Iringa and finally to Pommern.

Eight 5,000 liter plastic water storage tanks were purchased in Iringa and delivered to Pommern.  A monk from the village’s Roman Catholic church managed the building of the platform for the water tanks.  They provided a team of men to construct the water tank platform of rocks, earth and concrete.  It is now over seven feet high and topped with concrete.

When the trucks carrying the rolled pipe arrived, students from the Pommern Secondary School, operated by the Iringa Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), unloaded the rolls to the ground around the Mission House.  Then, over about one week, 55 students helped to assemble the pipeline in the trench.  The Roman Catholic church provided a farm tractor and trailer to move pipe rolls to points along the trench.  Then the students unrolled each 150 meter section, positioned each section in the trench, assisted in connecting them together, and filled about six inches of dirt over the pipe in the trench.  One day during our visit for the celebration we spent the entire day with Secondary School students filling in the trench beginning at the platform.  By the end of the day we all had filled in about three quarters of a kilometer and covered ourselves in red clay dust in the process!

As of now, the 2-inch pipe comes into the village and temporarily skirts the edge of the storage platform and ends at a permanent concrete basin with a faucet.  As soon as it was connected, village women began using the faucet to fill their buckets and jugs with water.  We were very happy to see that!  The pipeline then branches to a temporary pipe going to the Secondary School.  The water storage tanks sit atop the platform but are not yet connected or filled.  The concrete top of the platform needed to cure for several weeks before it could hold the weight of the filled water tanks.

The final configuration will have the main 2-inch pipe connect into the first 5,000 liter storage tank.  The eight tanks will be connected in series so that water will enter the first tank and flow into each of the other seven tanks, then exit the last tank.  From there the water will go through a manifold to several 1-inch pipes going to the Primary School, Secondary School, Medical Clinic, the area of the village’s Lutheran Church, and elsewhere for more public access.  All the water will be available for community use and none will go into private/home destinations.  The storage tanks will have a roof over them and the entire platform will have a fence around it.

September 2011 - Construction Well Under Way!

We are excited to report on the tremendous progress the Pommern Water Project has made since this Spring when we reached our fundraising goal and construction in Pommern began.

The Pommern community formed a Task Force to manage the Project.  Pastor Hamid Sagga (ELCT District Pastor) is its Chairman.  Other members include Shadrack Nyaulingoa (Pommern Secondary School Headmaster), Haran Ngedi (Pommern Secondary School Second Master and past Global Volunteers Country Team Leader), and Edward Mgeni (Current Global Volunteers Country Team Leader).  The overall project sponsor and Global Volunteers Host Partner is Bishop Mdegella of the Iringa Diocese, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania.

The full Pommern Water Project consists of an Intake in a small valley about seven kilometers (about four and one-half miles) away from Pommern and higher in elevation than the village to allow the water to flow without need for pumps.  A durable plastic pipeline will be laid in a trench that runs continuously from the Intake to a point next to the Pommern Medical Clinic.  The pipe will connect into a series of water storage tanks that will both store and purify the water.  From there the water will move in distribution pipes on to its final destinations at the Primary and Secondary Schools, the Medical Clinic, Church, Mission House, and other delivery points for parts of the Pommern Community.

The Intake is a rock and concrete structure 2 meters deep, 3.5 meters wide and 5 meters long.  It is at the bottom of a small valley and the land around it was purchased by the Secondary School to preserve the land from farming or cattle grazing.  A small stream runs into it.  The base is three layers – dirt at the bottom and two layers of rocks.  The downstream end has a spillway for continuous flow.  The Intake has a strainer for the discharge pipe at the second level.  Water discharges to the side of the Intake through a strainer into a concrete box, then through a second pipe exiting the box through a second strainer to another concrete box containing a shutoff valve under a locking lid.  Finally the water exits to a 2-inch plastic pipeline to travel to the community.  The engineers specified a pipe no larger than 2 inches diameter because this will both supply adequate water to the Pommern Primary and Secondary Schools, the Medical Clinic, Church and a large number of community residents and will allow water over the spillway to continue supporting local farming.  The Intake structure has various capped pipes that can be opened to drain the Intake for maintenance.

During our service trip we made two trips to the Intake.  The first excursion was to plant elephant grass stalks on the bare ground around the Intake.  The grass will help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.  The second excursion was to dig two ditches above the Intake extending out and uphill on either side to improve diversion of water runoff into the Intake.  At first there were only a few of us, including three Primary School girls, with two hoes.  We were soon joined by a crew of at least nine Secondary School boys, all with hoes or shovels.  It was great to see them show up and immediately get to work, swinging the hoes like experts with much more strength than we could muster!  They made short work of their ditch digging!

From the Intake, a trench extends about seven kilometers (about four and one-half miles) to Pommern and ends near the Medical Clinic.  The trench is about two feet wide and its depth varies from about three feet to over six feet in places.  It was dug entirely with hoes and shovels in hard red clay soil by a team of 15 Pommern men over about two months.  We walked the entire length of the trench and marveled at the energy it took to dig without any power equipment.  In several places the trench crosses streams or gullies, going down one side and back up on the other side.  Along the entire length, it is a net drop in elevation which is critical to its functioning as a gravity delivery system.

At about six places along the trench line, where the pipe will rise in elevation for a short distance, a “gate valve” will be installed to allow any air to escape from the pipe and to support periodic maintenance of the water line.  During our service trip we assisted in building one of the brick and concrete boxes in the trench line that will hold one of the valves, and began work on a second box.

Where the trench for the water pipe ends, the main pipeline will terminate at a water storage site.  During our service trip a crew of men were building the foundation for a platform that will hold eight 5,000 liter plastic water storage tanks, for a total of 40,000 liters (about 10,500 gallons) of stored water at all times.  As the water flows into and through the storage tanks it will be chemically purified.  Distribution pipes will be installed to move the water to its users in the Secondary School, Primary School, Medical Clinic, Lutheran Church, Mission House, and be closely available to the Pommern community in its general area.

The construction of the foundation for the water tanks, in addition to being another great instance of hard community work on the Water Project, is an example of the whole community coming together to make it happen.  The local Roman Catholic Church is assisting the village in constructing the water storage site.

As of early September, the Intake was finished, the trench was completely dug (except for a few very small sections where a road crossed the trench line), and the foundation for the water storage tanks was well underway.  The Task Force was preparing to purchase the eight 5,000 liter water storage tanks, which will come from Dar es Salaam.  Once permission is received from Global Volunteers to proceed, they will purchase the water pipeline.  It will be delivered from Dar es Salaam in rolled 150 meter lengths.  These will be delivered to Pommern and moved to locations along the trench where each section will be unrolled and manually moved into position.

For many more pictures of the Pommern Water Project construction activities, see the three new albums in the photo gallery!

April 17, 2011 - Construction Begins!

Global Volunteers CEO Bud Philbrook visited Pommern in February 2011 to meet with ELCT Bishop Mdegella (who is the Global Volunteers Host partner) and all the leadership who will be responsible for the water project construction.  This site visit ensured that everyone was ready to start.  In fact, preliminary work had already begun.  Global Volunteers arranges to disburse the money at each stage and the Global Volunteers Country Manager provides receipts and other documentation.

The Pommern leadership and community have been very busy organizing and beginning the initial stages of the project.  First, the Pommern Water Project Community Task Force was organized.  The Task Force consists of the Global Volunteers Country Manager, Pommern Secondary School and Primary School leadership, Pommern Parish and Pommern Village members. 

Pommern Water Project Task Force:

  • Himid Sagga, ELCT Pommern Parish Pastor, Task Force Chair
  • Patrick Auko, Teacher at the Secondary School, Task Force Secretary
  • Edward Mgeni, Global Volunteers Country Manager
  • Shadrack Nyaulingoa, Headmaster of Pommern Secondary School
  • Haran Ngede, Second Headmaster and former GV Country Manager
  • Aleko Swai, Principal of the Primary school
  • Edina Sanga, from Pommern Parish
  • Mr. Kagombo, from Village Community
  • Mr. Kindole, from Village Community
  • Dr. Mwaikuju, from Pommern Dispensary

The Task Force developed an Action Plan and project timeline to complete construction.  It is estimated to be completed by November 2011.  This ambitious timeline reflects the need for the water system and the energy and enthusiasm of the community!!

General Overview of the Project Stages:

Stage One:  Engineering and detailed design of new water system, surveying of the land for pipes, etc.

Stage Two:  Obtaining estimates of all piping materials, storage units, spigots, valves and intake unit.  Also obtaining estimates for any anticipated extraordinary costs such as drilling through rock, etc.

Stage Three:  Clearing project site, constructing pipe trenches, purchasing materials from reasonable cost suppliers.

Stage Four:  Constructing intake and protected water supply barriers, installing piping and installing water storage units.

Stage Five:  Testing of the new water system, remediation of any new problems.

The Task Force has finished all early stages like survey, community mobilization and reporting to the Kilolo District. The first survey has been completed and the necessary water permits from the local district have been obtained.  They have met with the Kilolo District Water Engineer for technical advice.  The Kilolo District Executive Director is very pleased to see this project being undertaken.

The estimates for the materials are completed as much as possible at this point.  In April and May 2011, they will buy the material, clear the site of major brush and construct the intake.

Global Volunteers teams will work with the community members on construction beginning late May and more so from June through the summer and fall, mostly focused on digging trenches and laying pipe etc.

We know many of the members on the Task Force and they provide us updates.  Our friends on the Task Force will send us photos via e-mail at different stages and we will share them with you and other updates as construction progress continues.


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