Engarre spends much time speaking with local people and the village mayor to get a good idea of local manners, relations and natural rhytms. If we want to provide any help or assistance effectively, we need to know how things really work here. At one occasion the mayor mentioned, that a dam on local lake tore in 2020 after some 15 years of operation and the water started to flow away. As the lake represents the only source of water in the area, situation became critical soon.
Normally the rainy season in Tanzania used to be from October until May with intensive rains from October till December and then from March to May. The other part of the year is a dry season with only little occasional rainfall. In the past years this natural rhytm changed noticeably - first rains came only in December and with low intensity. As a result of the broken dam combined with this changed climate rhytm, the water level in the lake was already very low at the end of dry season in September / October 2021. Still there was some water left when the rains finally arrived.
In 2022 however, the situation got worse dramatically. The breach in the dam deepened, less water was captured in the lake during the rainy season. So already at the end of 2022 rainy season, even before the summer, it was clear that some measures needed to be taken in order to preserve water in the land.
Fixing the dam on local lake is a big and costly project. The village did not have any money from the government which they could invest in this great repair. The team of Engarre was willing to help, in fact this critical water-related issue was one of our main motivations to establish the organisation of Engarre. However the NGO registration process in Tanzania takes some time and the village representatives decided to take the risk and launch the project before they had enough money to finish it. It was not an easy choice, but it is never easy to watch people suffering from lack of water or fleeing from their home land. The village representatives collected as much money from people in the area as they could. The purchasing power of people in these rural areas of Tanzania is very low, they are usually happy if they have enough resources to feed their families or be able to send children to school. But the village was able to pay for elaboration of the project and works on the dam repair started. You can check out the process and works on the videos on our Youtube channel.
We came to check the situation in person. Later in the dry season the already little lake started to dissapear in front of our eyes and likewise did the money which the village was able to collect for the project. The water in the lake dried completely approximately at the same time as did the funds for the repair.
From the photo story, it might seem that the repair is complete, but that is not true yet. The broken part of dam was repaired and the bottom of the lake deepened. But the crucial part of the project was still missing - to finish the drainage system of the lake in order to prevent another breach of the dam and the deterioration of the funds spent. The project provider refused to proceed with the work unless the contract price was paid. At the same time, the inhabitants of the village were in a situation: without rain - without money. Without water in the lake and without rainfall, their crops do not grow, animals die, families starve, and so they have no money left to give to the village officials to complete the repair of the dam. Vicious circle.
In November and December 2022, Engarre helped leaders of the village negotiate with the contracted provider of works on the dam, and contributed to the municipality financially, so that the provider ensured at least the necessary stabilization of the construction. However, there was still a considerable amount to be collected.
Above this all, nobody expected what was to come in the spring of 2023. The again delayed rainy season began with torrential rains, the dry beds of the seasonal rivers feeding the lake filled up in a flash, and water, which we would probably call "hundred-year-water" in Europe, poured into the empty lake reservoir. Previously, the always present lake level, which would have partially dampened the rush of water, was missing now, and so the rush of water, which also uprooted large trees from the ground along the way, broke the dam in a new place...
Engarre recognizes the importance of the lake for local residents, as well as the complexity of the breached levee problem. Further negotiations have been agreed, but it is already clear to us that rigorous preparation and elaboration of a new construction project will be necessary. We will publish the estimated costs after negotiations and expert review. We appreciate your every donation or other form of support for this extremely challenging project.