Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

the field

we've escaped the classroom and entered the lovely outdoors to begin data collection. jenna and anne have flown off to tanzania for the uncommon dialogue conference, and swathi and matt have shifted their attention to writing their dissertations, so at this point it's just natalie, jenna s., myself, and rob working in-country on this next phase of the project. soon we'll each be stationed in different regions to serve as 'satellite' support to the field teams. after that (we hope!) we'll be waist-deep in data.

the social aspects of water system engineering really fascinate me... it seems crazy that we can sit at our computers and design survey/focus group materials, and then bring them into communities to literally engage everyday people in hours of structured conversation. our pilot showed us that people have a lot to say about their water situation in this long season of drought (punctuated by population growth, climate change, deforestation, and other hard realities that Kenya is facing), as if they've been waiting to tell us what is on their minds...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Hey everyone. I've been way out of touch. The project has taken me to Nanyuki, Kenya, a very remote and HIGH place (see the elevation on the sign above) with almost non-existent internet. We've also been super busy with yet another round of training/piloting, leaving little time for much else...

Kenya is pretty spectacular: birds of every color of the rainbow, lush green land in every direction (the rainy season has just wrapped up), and at least in our neck of the woods--hardly a mosquito to be found in this perfectly cool/low humidity weather. We are living too good actually.

Oh yes, and during a hike in a national preserve last Sunday we found evidence of elephants everywhere. A little exciting, a LOT scary. I don't need to try to outrun an elephant anytime soon.

So here we are--Natalie, Anne, myself, and Jenna... hamming it up at the equator! Yeah.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I used to be a vegetarian before I came here. Now I eat steak. When I return to California I will go back to being a vegetarian.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pilot Day

We were up until the wee hours of the night last night preparing all of our equipment, and awake again before the sun came up to leave Dakar before the traffic got bad. This is pilot day, and everyone's a little nervous because so much of ourselves has gone into this study, and in particular this day that we launch everything. We have just about everything in order except for a few things that continue to make everyone groan, such as the survey being way too long, the GPS data collection protocol confusing the field supervisors (along with everyone else), and our difficulty acquiring essential equipment for assessing the water systems due to our contracted supplier being really difficult. This is field work!

Last night my bed was all aglow with electronics...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Negema wangu binti
Mchachefu wa sanati
Upulike wasiati
Asa ukazingatia

Come near me, my daughter
I am unworthy of God’s award
Listen to my advice
Maybe you will follow it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Touba buses

Senegal's public transport is amazing. Do you remember "The Magic School Bus" series from elementary school? That seems to be what the Touba buses are going for, except I think they've actually outdone the book. It costs about $0.25 to ride in one of these for as long as you want as it makes its loop, which is a pretty cheap tour of the city if you ask me (though you can't guarantee you won't have someone else's baby or bundle of vegetables in your lap). Taxis have adopted the look too, with tassles hanging from side view mirrors, multicolored windshield wipers, and these strange "tails" on the rear bumper made of leather or hair. I have yet to get a good photo of one though..