Tiffany Wise-West has used our StoveTec rocket stove to test for fecal coliform in one of the local water sources, the one yielding the water that looks cleanest to the naked eye. She found the bacteria, though in much lower concentration than she had expected.
She has also found, in interviews with a very small number of villagers, that they claim to have suffered no stomach ailments of the kind associated with unclean water. But the Community Survey by Jason Kahembe, more persuasively, records frequent attacks of diarrhea. This suggests to Tiffany that the villagers don’t want to speak as candidly to her as they did to a Tanzanian like Jason.
When Tiffany talks to the villagers, she asks whether they know of any link between unclean water and stomach ailments, while carefully avoiding the implication that the people here drink unclean water. So far she has not met a single villager who reports knowing about such a connection.
One of Ufani School’s teachers, a tiny, pretty, animated young woman named Rehema, has also spoken with Tiffany about the water in the village. Rehema comes from a different part of Tanzania and has given Karimu one of our reasons to build living quarters for teachers at Ufani and at Ayalagaya Secondary School, a forty-five-minute walk away. The lack of adequate housing in remote villages—Rehema’s bed took up nearly all the floorspace in her apartment next to Ufani when Marianne and I first met her three years ago—drives many Tanzanian teachers out of the villages and toward larger towns and cities. Maybe, not being a villager in the strict sense, Rehema feels no need to put a good face on the local water situation; that’s only my guess. Anyway, Rehema told Tiffany that she gets sick whenever she fails to boil her drinking water here. Tiffany has yet to speak to a villager who boils water before drinking it.
But I said Tiffany has interviewed only a small number of villagers—at most half a dozen, I think—so she hasn’t drawn any conclusions up to this point.—Don Stoll