Beyond Retirement - Still in my garden laboratory (wells, pumps, toilets, gardening) in Harare, Zimbabwe (by Peter Morgan)

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  • morgan
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  • I am a backyard tinkerer (trained as a biologist). I have lived in Zimbabwe for 42 years, where I have worked, amongst other things, on rural water supply and sanitation.
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Beyond Retirement - Still in my garden laboratory (wells, pumps, toilets, gardening) in Harare, Zimbabwe (by Peter Morgan)

Hello Susana followers,

Whilst I am now almost retired, I still continue to tinker about in the back yard with developments which may have some value in the WASH sector. I sent this document (see below) to Elisabeth recently and she thought those who view the susana files may be interest to view this account, although most of the works are related to water. Then water supply, hygiene and sanitation are closely related - or they should be.

So I am sending this account from someone who has been tinkering for over 40 years and beyond.

From the table of content:

1. Simple improved family wells
2. Hand Drilling and the bailer bucket
3. The Blair Pump – new developments
4. The Zimbabwe Bush pump – new developments
5. Rainwater harvesting in the homestead
6. Saving water in the homestead
7. Ring beam gardens – an update
8. Blair VIP. Recent trials

Best wishes
Peter Morgan
Peter Morgan
Harare, Zimbabwe
Website: www.aquamor.info

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  • KaiMikkel
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Re: Beyond Retirement - Still in my garden laboratory (wells, pumps, toilets, gardening) in Harare, Zimbabwe (by Peter Morgan)

Peter,

I just had a look through your document and am very appreciative that you took the time to explain your backyard projects in photos and writing. I expect that your ideas will inform my own moving forward. Thanks!
Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)
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Re: Beyond Retirement - Still in my garden laboratory (wells, pumps, toilets, gardening) in Harare, Zimbabwe (by Peter Morgan)

Note by moderator (Elisabeth): The below was originally an e-mail from Peter to me; I suggested he posts it on the forum because it's an interesting account of life in Harare, Zimbabwe with regards to water and sanitation at present. Also, many of you will know Peter and will enjoy hearing from him, I am sure. For those who don't know Peter: He won the Stockholm Water Prize in 2013 for his work to protect the health and lives of millions of people through improved sanitation and water technologies, see here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_Water_Prize
and here:  https://www.siwi.org/prizes/stockholmwaterprize/laureates/2013-2/

+++++++++++++++++

Hi Elisabeth,
Thank you for your greetings and may we wish you also a Happy New Year’ Let’s hope the virus will be conquered this year. You asked for an update
on my retirement activities – now 78 years old and still ticking - just.
 
We have been using ground water for many decades in our house and home.
Municipal piped water is scarce and according to University experts does not abide with internationally accepted standard of quality. The distribution
system is very leaky. The supply dams are low and heavily polluted. Treatment
therefore becomes difficult and expensive. Lake Chivero, our main supply dam is
about 56% full at the moment and is rising.
Since the early 1980's we have taken our water from a relatively shallow hand drilled tube well in our garden. The tube well is 16m deep. We live in
Marlborough - not the poshest of suburbs but it suits us. The tube well has
provided water since the early 1980’s until earlier last year (2020) when the
water level went low and we could no longer pump.
I have tracked the rainfall and water table since 2013 and knowing the source would dry up for the first time this year (2020) have installed extra
water tanks for storage.
 
Water collected from the borehole is not used directly but stored in a series of storage tanks and also in an underground cistern and hand pumped (with
a high delivery Blair Pump) into bottles and buckets and the water is brought
into the kitchen passed through a candle filter which makes it quite free of
any bacteria for drinking. We have been doing this for decades. There is no
chemical treatment. The water is excellent. Outside tanks also deliver water to
the kitchen tap and a flush toilet in the bathroom. It is all a bit Heath Robinson
style but it works.
 
Large numbers of residents all over the city have sunk their own boreholes, as a result of the poor municipal supply. Some drink the water
directly. Some pass their water through filters of some sort before drinking.
If well sited most borehole water is safe to drink. But many may be poorly
sited.
 
Boreholes have also been drilled in the high density suburbs and many of them using flush toilets and sewers. Since there is so little water in these
places the sewers block, then leak and then burst. Such leakage can contaminate
underground water. I have seen the same in Kisumu, Kenya. Water is being tanked
into some of these areas from boreholes collected from out of town and some
from in town although this is strictly illegal. A great deal of water is
brought in and sold to houses in tankers in the city. Bottled water is also
sold.
 
Hand pumps are also being used in the city. The B type Bush Pump has been the national standard in this country for over 30 years. It is very rugged
and fitted to boreholes. The Bush pump serves around 4 million people daily
both in the rural areas and now in the cities. Around 1.5 million people also
use upgraded family wells.
 
As for the virus, indeed it has added to our list of worries, just the same as in most parts of the world. Wearing face masks and lockdowns and travel
restrictions are being strongly reinforced. The new variant from South Africa
has also invaded Zimbabwe. I am now taking a prophylactic version of Ivermectin
applied as a liquid to the skin once a week. It is thought to be effective as a
prophylactic and a treatment in combination with other drugs.
 
Our power supply is also up and down. The transformer that gives us power was wrecked beyond repair by vandals and the users like us had to get
together to buy a new transformer. This we have done. But there are still power
cuts either from faults or load shedding. So we also use solar panels and
inverters and solar powered lights. The power goes on and off regularly. So you
have to be prepared to live here. If you are wealthy (which we are not) you can
sort it all out. But the poorest suffer most.
 
However despite all this horror we still live here. The sun shines brightly and the weather is excellent most of the time. And there are still
lovely places to visit and walk in.  Being retired we do not leave home much
and so it's like a self-imposed isolation.  I can tinker about in the
backyard. And quite content to do so.
 
This year (2021) the rainy season is an improvement on last year’s very poor season. Water has re-entered the tube well
and with carefully timed runs on the electric submersible I have been able to
fill water storage tanks. What is in some ways surprising, but also not
surprising if you look at long term records is that one season's rain can be so
different from the season before.
The dams are also filling up. In some ways it could have been predicted as this is a La Nina season in the eastern central
equatorial pacific. With La Nina, rainfall in Southern Africa is usually
improved. The graph below shows the current state of our rainfall and ground
water level in this one location. Rainfall can vary greatly around the country
and even within the city. There are records of rainfall going back a hundred
years for this country.
 
 
 
During the worst of the drought I used a urine diverting toilet (the Skyloo version) which is a working demo in my garden. The dropped matter is recycled
in underground “composter” with soil and leaves etc. I am still testing a B
type Bush Pump using a fully extractable piston and PVC rising main, also in
the garden. Also simple and cheap hand washing devices.
We use shower units which save a lot of water and heat water in the sun if the sun shines. Even our flush toilets have been
modified so they use less water. We are on a septic tank system and not connected
to sewers. I am now working on a hybrid between the Arborloo and the VIP - called a ventilated Arborloo. The Arborloo seems to have been popular in low income communities in East Africa, Malawi and
Ethiopia etc. It has never been used much in Zimbabwe. Perhaps one fitted with
a vent pipe may be more acceptable to the authorities here. Who knows!
 
All this work and more I have been undertaken in my own backyard for years at my own expense. As a born experimenter, I just
enjoy tinkering about in my own place. And especially in my own backyard where
I have complete control. I have written a book about My Garden Laboratory, mainly
to inform my family what their curious father and grandfather has been up to –
on the work side. A few copies were printed and some send to SEI (Stockholm),
RWSN and SuSanA with a DVD filled with material attached inside the back cover.
I am not sure what became of these hard copies and the DVD. Maybe placed in a
dusty drawer or shelf somewhere. There is also an adobe version. One can only
do ones best!!!!!
Stay well!!!!

Peter

PS
 
I attach a short video of me pumping water from an underground cistern with a simple hand pump. This water is taken to the kitchen
and passed through a candle filter. It tastes good and is safe. And a video on a simple hand washer (video too big, will post link later). 
Peter Morgan
Harare, Zimbabwe
Website: www.aquamor.info
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  • SuSanA secretariat currently allocates 2 full time person equivalents of time from members of GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Team: Arne Panesar, Cecilia Rodrigues, Shobana Srinivasan, Mintje Büürma, Finn Staack and intern Salua Moussawel.
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Re: Beyond Retirement - Still in my garden laboratory (wells, pumps, toilets, gardening) in Harare, Zimbabwe (by Peter Morgan)

Dear Peter, 

Thank you for this lovely contribution. We have also uploaded one of your videos on the SuSanA Youtube channel. Please find the link here:  Simple Hand Washer - YouTube .



It is indeed one true example of "La simplicité fait la beauté"!

Kind regards, 
Salua
Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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  • I am a backyard tinkerer (trained as a biologist). I have lived in Zimbabwe for 42 years, where I have worked, amongst other things, on rural water supply and sanitation.
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Re: Beyond Retirement - Still in my garden laboratory (wells, pumps, toilets, gardening) in Harare, Zimbabwe (by Peter Morgan)

Thank you Salua for your kind comments on the little hand washer. I have tried many hand washers over the years. This is the simplest and best. The clip is very short so it can be sent via an email. I sent another very short clip of a simple hand pump I use almost daily to collect water for our kitchen to Elisabeth. She told me she liked it. Just for your interest I attach this short clip to this email. Also to say how happy I am that SuSanA is connecting up with RWSN. Sanitation and Water Supply (and hygiene) are together a great partnership.

Stay well.

Very best wishes
Peter
Peter Morgan
Harare, Zimbabwe
Website: www.aquamor.info

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  • A solid-waste and wastewater master's graduate. I have a passion for all things environment, specifically waste, and love to network and hear about existing projects and initiatives. I am German and Lebanese and have been an active advocate of best waste management practices in Lebanon for several years now.
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Re: Beyond Retirement - Still in my garden laboratory (wells, pumps, toilets, gardening) in Harare, Zimbabwe (by Peter Morgan)

Dear Peter, 

Thank you for yet another interesting video. I believe it will be a great addition to the SuSanA  youtube  channel under tools and knowledge. Here is the  link .

I was so interested in how useful it looks that I tried to see how it is made. From your  publication  "My Garden Laboratory" I read that more information can be found on this site:  Aquamor, Zimbabwe -Home . I am happy to see it is all open access and take the liberty to share your interesting diagram here too.  



I hope this can encourage other members to check out these resources and network with you to promote the exchange of ideas and knowledge. 

If I create a garden laboratory some day, I'll know where to start! 

Kind regards, 
Salua
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  • I am a backyard tinkerer (trained as a biologist). I have lived in Zimbabwe for 42 years, where I have worked, amongst other things, on rural water supply and sanitation.
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Re: Beyond Retirement - Still in my garden laboratory (wells, pumps, toilets, gardening) in Harare, Zimbabwe (by Peter Morgan)

Thank you Salua, Please feel free to copy and use any of my work if you think others may find it interesting or useful. Much of the material is available on our website aquamor.info although I have not added much in the last 2 years. However the site is being updated by my son, Paul, in the UK, with new material, and will be available in a few months.

Stay well and keep going strong
Peter
Peter Morgan
Harare, Zimbabwe
Website: www.aquamor.info
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