Today, the Mali Water Project was on display at the Explore Illinois event, which showcases numerous activities at the university during its annual Mom's Weekend. Students put together an exhibit that included an interactive tour through the day in the life of residents of Konilo-Coura. This activity allowed the project team to become further connected with members of the University of Illinois community, receive donations for the site assessment trip and recruit students for next semester's LINC course. Two members of the Mom's Association also invited the team to give a presentation at their next board meeting.
Today, students participated in an hour-long conference call with six members of the village of Konilo-Coura, including representatives of its water committee. Dr. Osee Sanogo spent weeks coordinating the conference call with members of his village and a cybercafe in the nearby city of San that had previously never used Skype for a conference call. This phone call gave students an opportunity to ask the community about their water problems as well as the solutions that they desired. Moreover, it made the project come alive for both the project team and the community.
Through Dr. Sanogo's translations from Bwamu to English and back, the students learned that the village was very concerned about the poor quality of water during the rainy season in many of their hand-dug wells. These wells do not have proper casing and screens that prevent sediment particles and other contaminants from entering their water. Previously, the team had focused on developing new, clean water supply sources due to the supply problem. However, since the community emphasized water quality issues, more attention will now be paid to the possibility of treating existing sources.
In addition, the village residents described their dream system, which would feature a solar-powered pump that would convey well water into a storage tank where water would not spoil as easily and then transfer it to numerous public standpipes throughout the village. Industrial design majors skilled in product development are now teaming up with engineering students to produce a concept-level design of this system.
Finally, the team expressed its desire to make a site assessment trip in December and the village agreed to host the team. If enough money can be raised, the team hopes to further strengthen their relationship with the village with its first visit to the village!