Project #9773

Safe Water for 100 homes on Lingira

by Tawi Inc.

As Paul began to explore in our previous project reports (links above), the social, financial, and engineering-based obstacles that prevented ‘Quench Lingira’ from taking root are all players in a more complex challenger to development and aid around the world, one that we were not able to responsibly address in our brief time abroad. Though disappointed, we found solace in our plans to donate the unused ceramic filters to another NGO in another area of Uganda.

Following our summer in Uganda, however, EDGE entered a rather odd semester. Initially, after reflecting on Quench Lingira, we were determined to think differently about development and rethink the role of our organization in communities like Lingira. In the words of former director Paul Atwell, “what started as an attempt to reform the way the organization and its members thought about development snowballed into serious discussions about whether the current mission was the right vehicle to convey the most important lessons about development and working abroad.” After several weeks of discussion, we decided the EDGE Project was not in a place (lack of adequate research, too short of a time-frame abroad, etc) to address the complexities of microdevelopment that in the past we had acknowledged but seriously overlooked.


More importantly, we decided to use the lessons we learned and perspectives we gained through the EDGE Project as a springboard to developing a new and improved organization, an evolution of the EDGE Project, culminating with a full-on rebranding process--new name, new look, same audience, and same motivations. Beginning with a three-day leadership summit, the board of directors along with a reinvigorated alumni network, compiled and reflected on the valuable insights from the last five-years of EDGE. With those insights in mind, we began to cultivate the vision of a new organization, a seedling that would grow into a new tree, helping students to connect to the complex world around them--thus Tawi  was born. (Tawi: “branch,” Swahili)

The plan to donate the unused ceramic filters remains a high-priority project for Tawi. We have a few potential partner NGOs in the area, including an organization that Julius (a SHIM employee) is connected to, though we may wait to move the filters until one of our directors can facilitate the donation in-country this summer. Until then, the filters remain boxed and protected at the Lingira Living Hope Secondary School on Lingira Island.


Excerpt from our blog post "Welcome to Development" , June 20th 2012:
If someone has no means, such as chlorine drops or charcoal to boil water, that number would be a fantastic improvement on the lake water they currently drink. However, 97% effectiveness for kegs, or even the 98.5% for just a pot filter will still result in occasional sickness. Therefore, both of these household systems pale— mildly, next to the community chlorination systems that SHIM promotes in the region. They will achieve 100% safe water when operated correctly. Ultimately, unless the kegs or pots were able to match that, we would not have had our host’s full support.
I'm fortunate to be able to qualify this explanation with a revelation that came about after the original post. It made and continues to make to sense to not introduce any ceramic filter in a place where a majority are already using a "100% solution" for water purification. As I explained then, Lingira Island is such a place and to our collective frustration, is poorly suited to receive a 98/99% solution, such as our filters. We had turned to the Community-Lead Total Sanitation [CLTS] team at SHIM, consisting of the most-knowledgeable and driven water guys in the area. The appointed leader of the team, Samson helped us to understand why Lingira was not the place for the filters and why his team could not promote our filters in other areas where their team works. Short on time, it seemed our best hope would be to gift the remaining 200 or so filters to an NGO working in an area where ceramic filters could widely improve water consumption habits.  

What we failed to consider was the communities that Samson has personally set out to develop. Born and raised on an island where SHIM has had a tremendous impact, he saw little role for the filters there or anywhere else SHIM works. However, in a follow-up conversation with friend and CLTS member, Julius, I got a totally different outlook on the project. After feeling hamstrung for a day or two, he explained the plight of those people living in his home district of Mayuge. Like Samson, Julius was considering the peoples that he has set out to impact, though who that is, seems to be a product of where home is. Almost immediately, he proposed that we let the team use the filters to reach beyond SHIM's normal territory, to places where the water in the lake is the same as the water in the drinking glasses. (Forgive this crude map, but the blue line approximately identifies the areas I describe. SHIM's normal activity extends West a little, but southward otherwise. Here is the live map if you want to explore.)
At the time of our departure, the CLTS team intended to do some sanitation workshops and introduce the technology. There is really no other group in the area that I am aware of that is more equipped to take over the project and see that a productive resolution comes about. Our continued role will be serving as a resource for information on the filters as they need it, as well as continuing to direct our supporters' donations to the water project towards the needs of the CLTS team as they distribute the filters. Currently, there are no plastic containers to contain the pots, which we set out to subsidize to reduce the final cost per unit. We will likely supply the funds for those to ensure a low cost and prevent the lack of a container from being an issue for an interested family. In all, we're happy to say that over the next couple of months, the filters will be moving into a couple hundred deserving homes on the beaches of Mayuge District, at the hands of knowledgeable and capable friends. 

As a final note, I again extend an invitation to discuss things further as the people who helped make this possible. Also, my dear sister, who is among our donors, essentially asked me what heck these filters looked like and how they work. That was a fair question, considering the lack of visuals that we have supplied. I'll say now that any ceramic filter relies on the ceramic being porous, but only porous enough to permit the flow of water. As to the rest, I offer a video assembled by Dr. Buz Kloot, who was present on the island for 3 weeks of our stay. While we didn't give him much of a narrative to work with, the visuals are all there, accompanied by helpful dialogue. 

Friends, family, supporters, and curious readers, we hope all is going well for you as we quickly move into summer. As you may know, the EDGE Project travel team is currently working on their projects in Uganda on Lingira Island. This, of course, means our safe water project is presently underway and making progress. The couple months before leaving for Uganda, the team worked day in and day out on preparations of every aspect; delivery of ceramic kegs, water testing kits, travel options, and how to get a hold of necessary supplies in Uganda.

Currently, the team has found themselves neck deep in their efforts to supply Lingira with a viable option for safe and healthy water. With the help of one of the Kosim Water Keg founders, we're able to begin E Coli testing to deem the kegs effective and ready for on-site implementation. Even with preliminary tests, the basic ceramic filters showed no traces of E Coli and a cleaner water in general. This will only get more sanitary with the full assembly of the kegs.

Our most difficult step is to ensure the sustainability of these kegs once they have been placed in households around the island. Ongoing efforts on the island are trying to solve this question, which involves a lot of education series about water sanitation, as well as more integration of the filter with the culture. The travelers have been doing their best at spreading the word and ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the necessity of clean water. These efforts are all to see the kegs successfully assembled and put into action, but more importantly, are to draw normal means of drinking water away from the lake into a healthier and safer solution. The positive impacts clean water can have are immense, and only when Lingira has a healthy population will our other projects hold more weight and help as many people as possible.

Thanks, folks, for your incredible support in our efforts. Make sure to keep up with the EDGE Project's blog (link at the bottom) to see what the travelers have been up to. It's a good way to hear what is going on through the perspective of the travelers themselves.

Very best,

The EDGE Project


Friends and Supporters,

We first want to say thanks to you for making our matching campaign a fantastic success. Your help has brought us to a comfortable position as we begin to cement our plans for the implementation of our clean water project in a community with profound need. It is a treat to wrap-up the fundraising for this project and look to the remaining weeks before our trip without worry of being short of funding. All the scales are tipped in our favor as we close in on our return to Uganda.

Still, in the coming two months, we will be busy with several things. Among them will be finalizing the arrival and stay of on of the world's few water keg experts on the island. She will use her experience with several other projects to make sure that we build the filters with great deal of quality and see to it that they are placed where they will be well managed. We also are working out how to send a 50lb mold for the ceramic part of the filter to a ceramic factory in Kiminini, Kenya. That facility was started with the help of various Canadian groups and is meant to produce strictly ceramic pot filters. We will be their first keg-specific customers. Lastly we are working out plans on how to integrate the kegs into homes. As is, floor space goes at a premium and people seem to be content to drink turbid water. Therefore, we will be teaching how to use the kegs, but also why to use the kegs.

Inevitably, the time remaining before we travel to Lingira will evaporate before we can even blink. So we will be hard at work documenting our final plans for our month-long stay. But, please stay in touch. Hearing from a supporter who is so invested as to follow-up is a great experience. So write to us at and you can count on a timely response. 




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Organization Information

Tawi Inc.

Location: Arlington, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Tawi Inc.
Project Leader:
Paul Atwell
Madison, Wisconsin United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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