Field work in Maputo is a dirty business

For all of us the sampling in the field has started: at the start of the week we were still doing literature research in grey dark rooms, but now we work hard in the sun in the beautiful peri-urban areas of Maputo and start our days at 5:30.

Irene got permission to start working at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) where she collected several samples that will be analysed in the laboratory of the Ministry of Health. She also studied the plant operation and interviewed farmers who work nearby about their water use and reuse. Irene also had several meetings with the DNA (Direcção Nacional de Águas, National Water Directorate – the previous administrator of the treatment plant) and with the Department of water and sanitation of the Municipality (the current administrator). Furthermore, she is doing an assessment of the equipment and reagents that are available at the University’s laboratory and those that should be acquired for future work.

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Irene sampling at the centralised waste water plant

Stefan and myself (Odilia) have started working in the Bairro of Inhagóia. We are investigating the health aspects of farmers using ecological sanitation (ecosan). Ecosan implies the separation of faeces and urine; after appropriate treatment both can be used for crop fertilisation. We also had a meeting with the NGO WaterAid, the financers of the ecosan in Inhagóia. They were very enthusiastic about our research since the results that we obtain, could be very beneficial for the further development of ecosan.

We also took samples of the urine and of the surface water being used by the farmers to fertilize and irrigate the crops. To do so, Stefan had to go in a filthy pool of the water to take the samples and I got a shower of urine in my hair. In the way back home, nobody was interested to sit next to us in the Chapa.

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Stefan sampling water from pool in Inhagóia     

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Odilia diluting the urine from the ecological latrine

Furthermore, we are observing the irrigation practises and we are preparing a survey, to characterize their attitudes of irrigating with urine and their hygienic routines. The farmers are so friendly and the atmosphere is very beautiful, it’s really a pleasure to work in this area every day. First they were reluctant to be on the pictures made for the observations, but now they are posing like top models and we are having many photo-shoots.

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Top model irrigating the field

It’s a pleasure to realise that a month ago we didn’t speak any word of Portuguese and that we now can really communicate with the locals. In the meanwhile, they are also teaching us some words of Changana.

Kanimambo! (Thank you in Changana)


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