maandag 2 september 2013

Study tour in Mozambique

By Ralph Wesseling (National Water Trainee, H2O-job)
On Friday the 30th we had a day filled with fieldtrips ahead of us. It turned out to become a very interesting day.
Everyone got up early in the morning and after breakfast we drove off to the rural areas outside of Maputo. Since the visiting sites were far out of Maputo, nobody knew exactly how to get there. At a parking lot/market near the highway we stopped to get some directions and a couple of huge carrots for lunch. It turned out that we were really close to our first visiting site!

First on our schedule was a visit to the ‘Elephant pepper’ or ‘piri piri’ farm to learn more about the irrigation systems that are being used. The farm is working on multiple projects for drop irrigation techniques. A well was drilled for pumping up ground water on the site. Growing crops with most of these irrigation systems works pretty well. The only problem is selling the crops because there is no market/demand for it yet. Leaving enough peppers for Ilja and Iris to test. Too bad for them, there was nothing there to put out the fire…

After leaving the farm we had to wait for our Mozambican guide that would show us the way to the next irrigation site. Unfortunately our guide was in a meeting which was delayed for about 2 hours. This left us at the side of the road playing music, soccer with schoolchildren and eating local sweets and more huge carrots.
Just as we were about to head back home, our guide showed up. Towards our next destination we went off road, over dirt roads with some interesting obstacles. While we were trying to avoid big sandy holes without getting stuck in ditches, Teun noticed that donkey riders can be even more wicked in traffic than Mozambicans in cars. The donkey riders undisturbedly destroyed one of Teun’s side mirrors. We travelled on to a remote area where there was nothing more than a couple of huts and a huge amount of open space. There we found a small irrigation field. In the irrigation field we saw an example of a water well that was being used for watering crops by filling buckets.

During the last part of our fieldtrip, our smelling senses would be challenged at the waste water dump of Maputo. For most of us it was still unknown how the waste water in Maputo was treated. That became clear pretty soon after we opened the doors of our car. We were told that the waste water of one part of the city was dumped in the sea and the other part of the city was connected to this waste water system. The treatment system we visited consisted of four holes in the open air that were connected to each other through pipes. Waste water from one part of Maputo is being dumped in these holes through the sanitation pipes and sanitation trucks that dump their loads. The waste is left there for water hyacinths to grow on. You can imagine where the smell came from, since there hasn’t been any maintenance for more than 10 years. At the end of the area we found a farmer who used the same waste water for watering his crops. And so the cycle ´from your behind to your mouth´ was completed.

After a long day of travelling and other activities we decided to see some more of the night life of Mozambique. After a quick diner, our Mozambican friends took us to the boulevard near the bay in Maputo. If you’re living in Maputo and have a reasonable sound system in your car, you might be noticed in between the dozens of other contestants. After the boulevard we visited a small beach and a club called the ‘Elvis Bar’. After that some of us started collapsing, so we decided to go home for our well-earned 3 hours of sleep.

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