Skip to main content


Friday 12 Oct 2018Innovation for water development

Judith Smith - Buturi Makongoro Project - Founder/Director

Harrison 170 13:30-14:30


Having already sunk a borehole in Buturi community, followed by a Rainwater Harvesting system that was designed and installed by students from Santa Clara university, we still find that water remains a challenging issue. The issue of water and its availability is not just a problem for Buturi, but for the whole of Rorya district, and across the wider Mara region. The solutions to the problem are restricted by the size of the area, with the villages located far apart, and a lack of infrastructure. Other challenges are live stock, which share the ponds with the village people that are the only nearby water supply for the villages. The livestock pollute the water and create hazards. We have put forward four proposals we feel will overcome these challenges:

1. An immediate solution would be to expand the rain harvest system to all buildings that have tin roofs, and encourage use of local materials.

2. The medium-term solution is to invest in water storage to increase the capacity of the pond during the rainy season. This will provide supply during the dry season when the pond is dry.

3. Research and design a water purification device to filter the existing pond water and remove suspended material and pathogens from it.

4. The long term and most obvious solution would be to invest in sinking more boreholes. This is more sustainable, but at the same time is more expensive. This can include using a manual or electric pump, the latter could be either solar powered or wind powered.


As a native of Tanzania, I had the opportunity to work as a volunteer in the refugee camps of Malawi and Mozambique. There I witnessed first hand the powerlessness of women and children suffering from poverty, but whose lives – provided with the basic human rights of water, education and training – could be significantly transformed. I have 30 years experience as an expatriate living and working with my family in developing countries. This included hands-on work with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (F.A.O), which led to me and my family leading an EU funded project supporting the banana farmers of the Windward Islands, while we were based in St. Lucia. The purpose of the project was to oversee the farmers’ transition to fair trade status. I also had the honour and privilege of representing Tanzanian culture and art, through our Embassy Trade Attache, in partnership with Saanahouse, at The National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. Saanahouse was a business I ran for 15 years in Sidmouth, Devon, selling and promoting hand crafted, fair trade products. As a Fashion Designer I shared my knowledge in design in hand-crafted products in India and Africa. This experience has given me a solid platform to help look for sustainable solutions via social and business development in the community. In this time I also had the opportunity to work with Oxfam UK. Working with this organisation I gained the necessary experience to allow me to set up my own charity. What my experience has taught me is that solutions for reducing poverty and deprivation can only be sustainable if they are accompanied with education, and the involvement of the local people. I believe in engaging communities through education, whether it’s through primary and secondary education of the community’s children, or subsequent vocational training of the adults in safe and sustainable methods for maintaining sanitation, hygiene and healthcare. The added benefit of these education programmes is that the community feels a sense of ownership and involvement in the solutions as they are, in essence, implementing them for themselves, and the involvement of external parties is limited to providing the tools, knowledge and support. I believe in introducing solutions to problems the community have long known about but have not had the resources to solve themselves. The Buturi Project began as a one-off water project to sink a borehole for the local community in Buturi; this was implemented as part of the UN’s Campaign for Water and Sanitation, which began in 2008.

Add to calendar

Add to calendar (.ics)