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Sustainability Means Follow-up.


Last September (2011) the Bank-On-Rain team installed a Rainwater Harvesting system at the Barina Agricultural school. Eric Silverman, a Peace Corp volunteer (left, below) who is still in Sierra Leone sent Mike Williamson (Bank-On-Rain founder) a very important follow up email this week.


Eric teaches at the School and has given us invaluable assistance and support (considerable) right from the prior planning stage of our project. Without follow up we would never know if all our planning and hard work continues to be effective; in this case a project to supply clean drinking water to a school of 300.

Eric is like the Pied Piper, everywhere he goes the kids follow just to “hang” with him. His entourage accompanies him to the market, village, and everywhere, and there’s usually a group at his house. The image below is typical.


Hi Mike,

Good to hear from you, I hope all is well. Things are pretty good¬†here, just getting into the heart of the dry season and there is still¬†water in the tanks. We’ve saved one tank for March so we’ll see what ¬†happens. Everyone is happy with the project, except for the chief,¬† who¬†thinks I snubbed him in some way.

So there are no problems with the large system, except we’d like to¬†put little boxes on the valves so we can lock them after school and at¬†night because some kids have played around and left them open a few¬†times. Other than that, there are no problems with the main system, so a job well done. It should hopefully last a long time.

With the demonstration systems, we’ve moved the one fish (tote) tank at the¬†teachers’ latrines back inside to the boys’ latrines after the¬†teachers realized they never use those latrines and people were¬†playing around with the spigots or faucets. We could use a few extra¬†of those spigots as a couple have been broken.

As for the small business project, that hasn’t really developed yet, I¬†think because of the costs of the materials and the idea of using¬†bamboo is not that appealing to people. However, I think there is¬†still hope for it because a number of the teachers still want to have¬†it done at their houses and one of the buildings we are putting up for the new teachers. That leads to this current project, the teachers’¬†quarters, which we are working on now making blocks, cutting trees for¬†boards, and clearing the area. The project still needs about $800 on¬†the website so if you know anyone who would want to support the ¬†project, even for $10 or $25, donations can be made online.

Thanks in advance, hope all is well. Send my greetings to the rest of the Bank-On-Rain team. 

Best Eric.

Even after five months since installation in September 2011, the news about the faucets was not at all surprising and not unanticipated. Mike Williamson (Founder Bank On Rain)¬† with the support of Ken Blair (Director) has been designing, fabricating, and testing a new faucet design, specifically for use in developing countries with our rainwater systems. We hope to have some exciting news about our FullStop‚ĄĘ water faucet very soon.

Below Mike and Eric plan a small system at the school using the 50 gallon food containers easily obtainable in Freetown, only a days drive away.


We are very fortunate to have Eric at the school, sending us updates.


Note the “garden” tools above, a donation from Seattle University Maintenance who gave Bank-On-Rain their discarded tools to ship with the tank plumbing supplies last August. Yes, God is Watching.¬†And of course so is Eric!


Eric was hands on during the installation of the rainwater collection and storage systems installed at the school. And not only hands on but excellent at motivating the kids to do their part. Below, one of the volunteers carrying sand for the concrete pad under the tanks.


Eric has a two year teaching contract at the Barina School. Communication is difficult and often he is unable to get a cell signal for text messaging or there is no electricity to charge phones and computers. He catches up on emails when he can get to the nearest town some 3 hours away, usually once a month or so.

Eric is doing a great job for the community. Although only 24, he is considered one of the respected voices in the village and is consulted by the elders on many issues. Eric’s success in standing up to the Paramount Chief on the issue of the water system speaks volumes.

Oh yes; the Chief felt he should have received preference over the school’s rainwater collection installations! We‚Äôll build his the next time around along with the individual systems for the teachers in the village. We are very pleased how the idea of collecting this abundant resource (remember, 120 inches a year in SL) is catching on with the kids and especially the teachers.

On top of all of that,¬† April Boles, founder of¬†pedalsforafrica, will be doing a detour to the school this week and will report back to us on her return to Seattle. Thank you April for all the support you have given Bank-On-Rain, and more to come on April’s visit in another post.

So what have we learned? If you don’t have the on-the-ground-planning ahead of time and the follow up afterwards, your charity water project in Africa will not be sustainable.

Can you suggest any other ways to follow-up, or track the progress of your project in a developing part of the world?  

CASUDI (Caroline Di Diego) Founder, Director Bank-On-Rain. THINK RAIN!

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Published February 15, 2012 on Posterous

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