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WaSH Team Holds Internal Training

By Angela Cacciola -- Before beginning her next adventure, French engineer Agathe De La Chaise, held three days of training for blueEnergy’s Water and Sanitation (WaSH) Team to conclude her eight months volunteering here in Bluefields, Nicaragua. Agathe said she was happily “amazed at the response and enthusiasm the team expressed,” despite the significant amount of time the training took away from daily demands. The water team and its supporting members consist of seven locals and two additional international volunteers.
Agathe describing soil types to the Water and Sanitation Team

Even with typical setbacks of a workday in Bluefields, which included a massive fumigation to eradicate mosquitoes, heavy tropical showers on the metal roof and noisy carpentry work next door, the team found a way to make the most of their time spent together. Training was focused on evaluating the five wells that have been dug in Bluefields over the past year and improvements that can be made on the remaining wells that will be dug in 2012. “We want the five or six families who put the effort into building the wells to use them so we are making them easier, more user friendly,” said Thibaut Demaegdt, coordinator of the Water and Sanitation Team.

During the training, Agathe noted that “each of the members contributed with clever ideas and relevant questions and objections. It was more passing information and exchanging technical points of view than teaching.” She continued to say it was quite “exciting to facilitate this giant soup of knowledge.” The team discussed the hydrology of the soil they were digging in, specifically under which conditions it is best to stop drilling the well so it resides in a good aquifer. They examined the drilling process, including the social work necessary to gather people and motivate them. Proposals were made to improve the digging process, such as using a bigger drill bit with stronger materials and developing other tools to help guide the drill vertically. Lastly, they reviewed the installation and activation of each well and came up with ways to make the wells cleaner by using different types of sand and chlorine disinfectant. Local technician, Vladimir, commented, “the training was very important. It was a good experience, one that allows us to better the technical details and criteria of the projects we work on.”

This type of learning is important for the success and sustainability of the water team, who will be lead by a local Nicaraguan beginning early next year when Thibaut heads back to France. This transition is another big step for blueEnergy and the Water and Sanitation Team, who will be the first technical team to undergo local management.
Local technician Ronald explaining well drilling ideas to Agathe

Recent additions to the water team include a member of the municipal government and Alonso, one of the beneficiaries of the wells that have been dug. He knows firsthand the difficulties of drilling a well in extremely hard, clay soil. His leadership qualities and his ability to motivate other beneficiaries throughout the tiresome task make him a highly valuable asset to the team.

Agathe mentioned that she hopes “there will be a good follow up so everything that has been discussed on the training will be taken into account on site.” However, from the eagerness displayed on the faces of the team throughout the training, it is hard to imagine the team will forget what they have learned. The training will undoubtedly benefit the future of the Water and Sanitation Team and the quality of their enormous workload that contributes to blueEnergy’s efforts to create a “more equitable and sustainable world.”

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