12 September 2012

On my way home

Dear friends,

I left tanzania this morning for a meeting in nairobi and then going home. avi stayed for the end of the conference which was very successful, we met many people and we are happy to say that there was a respectable amount of israelis as well.
I'm in Nairobi airport after having a wonderful meeting with the director of the nyharuru water company. This director was nominated number one operator of water companies in Kenya and after a good meting with him we hope to be able to work with him on his future plans.
So what can I say, I don't have a lot of time but this was a most mind opening and business opening tour and I definitely see myself returning very soon to implement some of the discussions that we had.
Enough talk now we do, after I rest a bit

Talk to you and see you soon back home

All the best

11 September 2012

Misanga Sanga

Dear friends,
Both Avi and I have been experiencing different degrees of the flu / sore throat, I think I’m better already but Avi is still in deliberations.
Misanga Sanga, is Malagasy for going sightseeing and that is what we did on Saturday, we went to see some village projects, saw the village water system, talked to the people, and got an overall feeling of what we are up against, what exists and what needs to be done.
We travelled to Masimpierenana Ambony a small 30 people village part of the  Moraranu Functani (commune) and another commune, together 850 people, in the Antanifotsy region, which is 120 km away from Antananarivo. Their water situation is considered very good because about a year ago they were given the current water system. The water system was designed and implemented by CNGEAR a local NGO which deals with training and implementation of water projects, together with WaterAid, which is a serious player in the water space of Madagascar with many achievements. Their system is based on a mountainous spring, channeled into a reservoir and then channeled with underground piping to multifamily communal taps. The system works very well and supplies the water needs of the local population. The whole system is very simple, works on gravitation, sedimentation filtering, piping, cement tank and hand pumps. I asked the local water committee president how the system changed their life and his answer was that this system gave the village 3 main advantages: the first allowing everyone more time, in the past they spent hours retrieving water, now this time is spend it on working in the field, this immediately, in less than a year transferred into a higher income and people were happier, children were going to school on a regular basis, something they could not do prior to the system, but lastly he said, it really opened our eyes, to the possibilities of life with income and our next goals for the coming years are better access roads and a better schooling system. This is the impact that water has on people. The project that we intend to do is a bit more challenging because our area, about 1000 km south to this region, in Ambovome, is a dry coastal area with no springs but many other options for containing and treating water.  
The underground spring water collection point.

the tank reservoir channeled by piping and gravitation

the villagers near the tap

the tap that changed their lives

the water committee president that I talked to
Of all of the countries we have visited I have a soft spot for Madagascar, all in all there was a romantisization of the country and all my feelings came to be true. We have learnt that the Malagasy people are honest, hardworking, generous and trustworthy. We have been working on the Madagascar project for 2 whole years, getting the right partners, developing a good relationship of trust, understanding what needs to be done and with this visit all sides are ready to start working.
On Sunday we had quite an emotional goodbye from Naivo and Theodere, our partners for the project and travelling partners for the last 3 days, which were fantastic, generous hosts that care for their country and are looking to make a change. We look forward of being a part of this change.
the good produce

A strange site on our way back, A private school named shalom??? we coun't find out the orgin of this school, but it is something for me to find out next time we come here!

the rainbow at the end of the day

water distribution point in Antananarivo and the sewage next to it, Antananarivo has a methodological system of water distribution through out the city, it doesn’t look so good but for now it is doing the job.

we are now in tanzania, will update you soon!

06 September 2012

Live update from Antananarivo

So finally I am updating you live from the lobby of the beautiful Le Louvre hotel in Antananarivo – Madagascar. It is a small boutique hotel, very reasonable pricing, the best we had, hotels in Africa are very expensive and the best hotel we were at, till now. It was built on the ruins of the “Gallery Lafayette type store” which was here some years ago.
Madagascar is very much influenced by France and it is very evident from the architecture.
Antananarivo, is not what we expected, first of all it winter here, so it is quite cool, around 15 degrees at night and 19 in the morning, although, the poverty which is seen, it is more like a European city than an African one. The landscape is very hilly and the soil looks very good, Antananarivo is in the center, so it is quite green and gets quite a lot of water.
We already had three meetings, which were a great start for the days ahead. We have been in contact with our local partner Naivo, for already two years, it is very strange to imagine, how people get to know each other over the net, start working together and haven’t even met face to face, but this is our story and we can only say that we are lucky to know him, we both persevered and at long last we are here.
We also met with Theodore the director in charge of the southern area in the water ministry Theodore has been very instrumental and together we have already revised our project so that it would be more appropriate, our stage one project will be a training program together with a full study of the south region whilst bringing several  solutions such as brackish water small desalination installations and wells.
Later we have met with the secretary general of the ministry of water who has given her blessing for our project and stressed the priority that has been put by the government on the potable water issue in the south.

Beautiful Antananarivo

Naivo, Avi and theadore, in front of the late queens palace - apparently she was a wicked queen in the mid 1900's which beheaded cristens and threw their heads from the mountaintop. 

the prime ministers office.

On our way to Madagascar

Dear Freinds,

this is the post from yesterday.

We traveled from Douala to Nairobi where we had an overnight transit and left the hotel at 06:30 on the way to Madagascar.

So as usual our journey led to us to many experiences:

In Africa it is very popular to “Lnilen” cover your baggage in plastic wrap, this is very important against several maladies rain and theft, so if in Rome act like a roman we did too, for a cost of 4$ per bag…..


The air Kenya flight was really good, good service, not so good flight connections (we had to have the overnight transit which is a waste of a full day and very disappointing, but alas this is Africa), but getting back to the service since we had no meetings today and no care in the world we decided to have some drinks which were offered to us very generously, see below, as you can imagine we had quite a funny flight.

drinks on the flight to Nairobi

But back to reality, we came to our hotel, which we paid for by the internet in advance and it was not registered, they were very nice about it and said they will make the checks and get back to us, so in 6 oclock when we left they still did'nt know if we paid or not but trusted us. But they did not have a good internet so once again, the posting is done late, I hope that we don’t have this problem in Antananarivo, (we don't) but in any case I opened office in the only place WiFi was available hopefully waiting to get connected, alas that did not happen.

Pic of Ornit’s makeshift office in the hotel in Nairobi


1.   I still have purple spots from the dye of the bazan material from a week ago!!!!!
2.   The dizziness, queasiness, is most likely from the malaria pills, it is getting better.
3.   WiFi check: grand hotel Niamey – very good; Meirna hotel – Yaounde – very good; Planet hotel douala – not so good; bounty hotel – Niarobi – not so good. Airports Nairobi and addis aba – great! the rest don’t have.
4.   Oh and my computer battery just died out…. And I bought a new one just for the trip, again very disappointing.


Madagascar is famed for its “mega diversity” as the New Yorker coined in their fantastic article Slow and steady about the Angonka Turtles which are on the verge of extinction, thank you Jonah for sharing….. Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island, lies off the south east coast of the African mainland. Madagascar has a variable climate, ranging from tropical along the coast, to temperate in the inland and plateau areas, to arid in the south. Thus, the island can be divided into sub regions concerning its water issues. 
80 percent of its animals and plant species are endemic, looking forward to seeing some, hope I have the chance. “The rate of extinction is high, owing to deforestation at a catastrophic rate – the country has lost 90% of its forest to logging and slash-and- burn agriculture.” (new Yorker article). While flooding afflicts the country’s northern and central regions, the population in the south has been overwhelmed over the years by a severe drought, which has led to under-nutrition, water and sanitation crisis and a loss of agricultural livelihood, and why we are there.
Madagascar became independent in 1960, but continues to deal in a decentralized fashion as per the French operation system which was formed in the colony. Madagascar is divided into six provinces composed of 22 regions containing 1500 smaller administrative units called Communes. Each Commune is destined to have its own Development Action Plan but most of them lack both the funding and the staff to produce such plans.
Madagascar has been experiencing a socio-political crisis since 2009 associated with the global financial crisis, political turmoil and unanimous departure of most of the international organizations from supporting Madagascar, leaving the challenges unmet and weakening people's living conditions substantially, again why we are going there. 
Madagascar has an array of extensive water needs, which are both in the Macro and Micro level and require long term effort. Within the water sector some of the stronger provinces have kept a sustainable organization and flow but within the Toliara Province and especially Androy and Anosy Regions where we plan to work, all infrastructure collapsed and the area has been declared on the verge of water scarcity due to draught and the dysfunction of public administration in the area.
The national DIORANO -WASH Strategy paper published in 2003 estimated that the total burden of water and sanitation related illness on the Malagasy economy was over 300 times greater than the amount of public money being invested in the sector.  The limited access to clean water, high rates of open defecation, improper handling of children’s stools and poor hygiene behavior has resulted in water borne diseases such as diarrhea being the second-leading cause of child mortality in Madagascar.  Years of government and NGO sponsored infrastructure projects without establishing durable management structures capable of maintaining the systems has resulted in hundreds of abandoned, often unmapped water points scattered throughout the countryside.
So hold fingers for us and let’s see if WaterWays can assist in doing something about this problem!

Our Last day In Cameroun

Dear Friends,
Two days ago was our last day in Cameroun, and i intended to write, but....... you will read about here.
It was our last day in Cameroun; we finished off with a good meeting with the secretary general of the ministry of water and energy, they are open to new concepts, we are trying to introduce a more long term approach for projects which will allow sustainability for a longer time, as in most African countries and projects the main issue is the longevity of the projects, they just don’t last, be it because of lack of maintenance, lack of training, constrained funding and unfortunately insufficient pre project planning. We hope to introduce to the government a project with a new concept, which looks at the water issue of the region from the macro holistic view rather than an exsistential one and although it might cost a bit more, will last longer.
The secretary general and myself
We traveled 4 hours back to Douala, ate banana chips which are salty here, they were really good and sugar covered peanuts also good, a wholesome dinner....I was not able to sleep, as usual in my travels, but luckily at some point they put on a movie "the gods fell on their head" #2, I remember this south African movie form the 80s and I saw #1 , #2 was just as funny and heartwarming, we felt that the surrealistic scenes in the movie were just as surreal as Avi and myself watching this 80s movie, dubbed in French, on a Cameroun 4 hour bus drive to Douala!
the peanuts on the bus (we already ate the bananas)
Came to the hotel, and although we had a good experience last time, this time, there was no internet, so I called for the reception they said they would bring me a cable, I waited patently and they brought me a cable, then I saw there was no AC, so I called again and then I went to the toilet to find that there was no toilet seat, that was about as much as I could take at 11:00 at night after 4 hours drive, but I was very calm about it (and they were really sorry) and patiently waited until they changed my room, and then there was AC, a toilet seat, but the internet cable didn’t work, so disappointed but very sleepy, I went to bed, hoping I can find a wifi in the morning to send you this blog. but didn't until right now! two days later.

We really enjoyed the food in Cameroun and had a great local variety, from the kitchen of El Hadj's wife, she is a great cook and wonderful host, to the traditional restaurant with African music and even the restaurant in the hotel, the food was great.

the restaurant le Paysans, villages of Africa, with live african music

The swirly things are a tapioca type mixture which makes the local “bread” called Baton de Manioc, the tapioca type bread 
Talk to you in Madagascar

03 September 2012

El Hadj

Dear friends,

So many thing happened that this is my second post today.
On Friday evening we met with our partner El Hadj, El Hadj is a spirited entrepreneur with a true understanding of business and his country. He like ourselevs,  found himself in the water business after understanding that before anything else his country needs a reliable water flow and although there is plenty business opportunities he first wants to tackle this issue. there is plently of water in cameroun but it is not yet managed properly and therefore encounters water shortages in the cities and famine in the north.

Together we have several ideas of water projects that can be done in Cameroun for the benefit of all.

We had several meetings with government, NGOs, the israeli ambassador which discussed with us the issues of agriculture and shared with us his ideas and experiences (Miki Arbel is by occupation an agricultural expert and is introducing to Cameroun drip irrigation and much more, watch his documentary on Mako http://www.mako.co.il/news-channel2/Weekend-Newscast/Article-62f9da2dd714831018.htm) and are learning about Cameroun and its water difficulties. See more below more about Cameroun.

Avi, Theirry, the ambassador, el hadj and myself

Avi, Theirry and Peter , the innovative founder of Life & Water
development group an NGO which works with the northern villags with much sucess understanding their needs and how to bring about change.

El Hadj is a gracious partner and host and every evening he invited us to his house to enjoy local Cameroun style dishes, and meet his lovely family, wife and 10 beautiful children. Today he honored us deeply when he invited us to the naming of his new born granddaughter and we were privileged to be among his guests.

the naming ceremony

the food, a stewed meat and wheet dougnuts

the meat stall in the market where alhadj bought the Kilishi, a spicy drued meat and for me he bought the less spicy.

Dinner with Thierry and Didie, the finance manger, in El Hadj's home

El Hadj and myself

the Kilishi

Tomorrow more meetings and the meeting with the secretary general of the water ministry and a 4 and half hour drive back to Douala! write to you soon!

The road to Yaoundé

Dear Friends

It has been several days since I last wrote you! But if you continue to read you will surely understand why it was impossible for me to write.
Every day we leave early in the morning and come back to the hotel late at night exhausted.

On Saturday we took the bus (very modern, not like the buses in the stories of the backpackers in India) from Douala to Yaoundé, 260 km of tropic forestry, the landscape was very beautiful and very interesting, every some 50Km was a resting stop in which locals sold fruit, bread and different snacks to the weary travelers. Travelers bought food from the open window. The trip took 4 and half hours, the road was narrow but fairly good, with quite a lot of police presence, and speed cameras, apparently there have been a lot of fatal accidents and the government decided to take an initiative. There was one pipi stop, men went to the right, women to left of the road, and it was very practical and natural.

the bus station in Douala

The tropical road to Yaoundé

the rest stops on the way


Cameroon ranges from Sahelian semi-desert in the north through grassland to equatorial forest in the south. It has significant natural resources, including oil, high value timber species, and agricultural products (coffee, cotton, cocoa). Untapped resources include natural gas, iron, bauxite, and cobalt.
The Cameroonian economy is relatively diversified, with services accounting for 44% of 2009 GDP, agriculture and manufacturing 19% each, and oil and mining 7%.
Poverty rates are close to 40%. 55% of rural households are poor—compared with 12% of urban households—and about 87% of the poor live in rural areas.
Although in some places there is 3000mm rain a year and it is tropical weather other areas in the north are not so lucky. In the North it is desert which was struck by famine this year, there, there is not enough water, in the south there is enough water but it is contaminated and needs treatment and in the cities some are connected to an urban water distribution system and some are not and even those that are do not have a stable source.
in the city of Yaoundé although the water system there are water hortages and tanks and water containers are needed

El Hadj and Avi near a water pump in one of the new districts in the city
So many things to do it is overwhelming, but all needs to be done one step at a time.
 A church

01 September 2012

Landed in Douala Cameroun

Dear friends,
It has been so intense, that I forgot that today is Friday, so Avi and I had Shabbat dinner in our hotel; I had my usual, in the last couple of days, Nisouse salad, since both Niger and Cameroun are much influenced by France the Nisouse salad is a frequent in the hotel menus. Avi on the other hand, had the Miss Bamoun – this is a dish made of sautéed vegetables, mainly a spinach like veggie, with a smoked fish, which was very tasty and I will have to have it in the coming days. Bamouns are the people of Central Africa established in west Cameroun , in the region of Grassland where Bamileke and Tikar also live.  The side dish was caramelized plantain – the local banana used for cooking – delicious as well.  We’ll take a picture next time.
Cameroun is very different to Niger, much greener, and as the heat went down, so did the desperation. The heat of Niger does something to a person, you become slower and less interested in what is going around and more interested in getting your body temperature under control and those that can, getting to an A/C as quick as possible.
This is not the case here, the temperature is milder here, and there is a nice breeze, as we left the airport, there were areas of green grass going on and on. But we are here not for the view; although the stability of rain, there are still many water problems in Cameroun, in the south contaminated water and in the north lack of water, we will hear all about as we continue our tour. We will be traveling to Yaoundé the capital of Cameroun, and near there we will also visit some villages and project sights.
Before dinner we met Thierry Biheng, our new friend. We have been in contact with him for over 7 months and at long last we are meeting, this obviously is very moving  for us and for him and we had a very good meeting, discussing the issues, what we can do and how we can cooperate. We are very grateful to Thierry for his assistance in making the trip possible.
Shabbat Shalom