Water and Electricity Issues
There is no running water at Simbiri! Water is a precious commodity. Rainfall can be erratic. There is a traditional rainy season and dry season, but in recent years this has not been so clear cut as previously, possibly due to climate change. Sometimes it rains regularly – and storms can be dramatic. Sometimes it does not rain at all for weeks. On site we collect rainwater from the roofs of all the buildings.
The water is stored in many containers. There are several 5,000 and 10,000 litre plastic containers next to various buildings. But, Keith and Dee Dick oversaw the building of two massive 77,000 litre stone built water containers that actually do fill up when the rains are good!
So, usually there is enough water for patients and staff and some left over to sell to the locals.
However, there are times of drought when the stored water is not sufficient. Local wells and springs in the area are then used – although the cost and effort to collect this is considerable. We are considering drilling our own borehole which would then provide water security and greatly increase the productivity of our land project which grows maize and vegetables. If we did have a borehole, we would still use water collected from the roofs first (as pumping up the water would require an expense of electricity) but in the knowledge that if that ran out, we would always be able to get water from our own borehole if needed. However, to dig a borehole needs to be done professionally and would be expensive – perhaps around £9000.
Patients and staff wash in washrooms with no running water but just buckets of water self-collected from the large water containers. However, funds have become available to build a simple shower unit. For this, you need a plastic container of about 1000 litres capacity which needs to be manually filled with water. The heat of the sun is enough to warm the water to a pleasant shower temperature by evening! We plan to build this soon.
Water used for drinking is taken from the large water storage containers and then filtered to purify for drinking.
Electricity IssuesThe whole site is fully wired up for mains electricity. A large generator provides electricity to the site but we can only afford the diesel to run this for about 2-3 hours per day. So, the generator is put on from dusk until about 9.30pm. This is enough time to keep the mortuary fridges sufficiently cool. It also provides lighting for the evening Health Centre activities.
Until 2013, overnight light was provided by paraffin lamps. However, money became available to buy several small solar powered lights for the wards, toilets and consultation rooms. This has made a big difference to the staff and patients at night. To provide full scale solar generated electricity for the whole site and to be used for refrigeration, equipment etc, would cost about £9000 – something we are looking into, but…….
The national electric grid is now very close. It has reached the road (well, dirt track!) next to Simbiri. After years of local politicians promising the local community that electricity would come soon – it really now does look as if it is a reality. So, we hope to become fully electrified! in the very near future.