Sustainable Resilient Tanzania Community

The students, faculty and staff of the Sustainable and Resilient Community (SRC) project at the Ohio State University are working collaboratively with the citizens of Marwa, peers from the University of Dodoma as well as the project's non-government organization partners, designing and building water treatment, storage and distribution systems as part of a transformative service-learning experience. The project is called “Maji Marwa” which means “water for Marwa” in Swahili. Marwa is a rural village located along the Pangani River in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. The village's main source of water, the Pangani River flows from Mt. Kilimanjaro. On average, women and young girls walk five to seven hours each day, every day, to collect water for domestic household and personal use.

As a first step in the larger Maji Marwa project the community and team at OSU decided to construct rain water harvesting systems attached to the rooftops of local buildings designated by the community. While rainwater collection is not viable option to sustain all of the water needs of Marwa, it is able to accomplish a variety of goals. The first is an immediate relief to the village in terms of water needs at the installation locations. The second is that it builds trust and capacity in the relationship between Marwa and the various partners of the project. They are able to see and feel the impact from this first part of the project. The third is that it allows the technical partners to gauge and observe local tradesmen and practices that will be vital to the installation of the larger Maji Marwa System.


The first installation of the rainwater harvesting system took place in May 2017 with a successful installation at the Marwa village dispensary with a tank capacity of ~19,000 L. The water is currently being used to assist in child birth and other medical procedures. This first system was completed with a local tradesman and his crew and was utilized as an opportunity to learn about the construction techniques and process used by locals. The team was able to learn a great deal about rural construction practices and returned to OSU with numerous ideas on how to improve the process.

The second rain water harvesting system was successfully installed during Summer 2018. Patrick Sours, a graduate student in Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering has been working on the Maji Marwa project for the past two years. His research is focused on the process and improvement of the design and installation of rainwater harvesting systems and the communication of technical innovations to end users. The Maji Marwa project is a Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering (CEGE)-led capstone initiative, but during 2018-19 the project is inviting FABE Capstone students to work alongside peers from CEGE. “We are excited to welcome students from FABE to be a part of the Maji Marwa Project; their skills and expertise will make a strong addition to the team” said Dr. Michael Hagenberger, who oversees the project.

In May 2019, the third rain water harvesting system will be installed on the Marwa Primary School. Patrick and the team will be working to further improve the design of the system, hoping to further reduce cost and improve the construction process while incorporating local knowledge. While reducing cost is a crucial factor is also important to transfer knowledge of improved construction techniques and practices to local tradesmen.