Exploring Water Usage in Villages around Dodoma

By Mike Sargent

While spending the week at the University of Dodoma (UDOM), we were given a presentation on a recent water study conducted by the College of Natural Sciences. Prior to our visit, they had visited four nearby villages to study the water channels and quality of water used. The methods – and village health – were drastically different from each other.

Although we had little time remaining, we chose to squeeze in a visit to see first hand the best and worst villages. At each village, we searched and searched for the village chief before proceeding with our tour. We quickly learned that village chief buy-in is a critical step in gaining approval and avoiding an unfriendly confrontation.

Starting with the first village, we found poor levels of agriculture quality and deep water holes that had very little water around six to eight feet below the surface. One astounding aspect was the extremely positive attitude the villagers displayed. They were clearly happy we had an interest in visiting and helping. One woman collecting water proudly slurped a gulp of what appeared to be mud. Although we recognized her pride in her village, we very much wanted to reach out and stop her.

Limited Dirty Surface Water at First Village Visited

Limited and dirty surface water at first village visited

Christian interacting with villagers collecting water at first village

Christian interacting with villagers collecting water at first village

Villagers go to great depths to collect surface water

Villagers go to great depths to collect surface water

This village was equipped with a windmill to power a bore hole that was designed to pull clean water up from the water table. Unfortunately it had been inoperable for over a year with no clear problem defined. in addition, sand had been taken from the river bed, which limited the potential to collect larger amounts of ground water.

The second village we visited was a night and day difference. The crops were in bloom, kids were playing a full scale soccer game, and there were multiple water sources that the villagers were able to access. The collection points in the river bed were full of water and a a fully operational diesel powered bore hole was jointly owned by 60 families. Compared to the first village, this one was definitely thriving.

Diesel pump and bore hole at second village

Diesel pump and bore hole at second village

Water storage for irrigation purposes at second village

Water storage for irrigation purposes at second village

2048 – Download Now!

By Mike Sargent

2048 is one of, if not, the best app I have ever downloaded. Elliott introduced us to this game, and it has been like crack. The basic premise is to move tiles around in a 4×4 grid combining them in powers of two until you obtain the coveted 2048 tile. After each move, a new tile appears until you cannot make anymore combinations.

The elusive victory screen

The elusive victory screen

We have hardly noticed the extended waiting times and slightly inefficient culture as we simply grab our smart phones, open 2048 and swipe away. Whether it’s someone meeting us an hour late, others taking tea instead of sticking to the schedule or a three hour wait after ordering food in a restaurant, 2048 is always there to make the delay pass in a flash.

A little mid-safari 2048 action

A little mid-safari 2048 action

Although strategies are shared, a stiff competition has evolved with significant bragging rights for top score. Carlos thinks he has the highest score, but considering his app was created by a separate developer and appears to be much easier, he has been excluded. Equally impressive is Elliott’s low score of 44, which, counter-intuitively, requires significant skill.

We have also had intense debates as to the possibility of scoring a zero in the game. Although theoretically possible, most of our team believes it could never occur.

Mike's remarkably low score.  Is 0 possible?

Mike’s remarkably low score. Is 0 possible?

I urge you to get this app ASAP, especially if you have a bunch of time on your hands. Yes, Kenya teams; I’m talking to you.

A Study on Tanzanian Handshake Etiquette

By Nick Ward

After spending two weeks living and working in Tanzania, the most difficult adjustment for me by far has been figuring out handshakes. There is a wide variety of styles, and going into a greeting, I never know which one to use. The following list is just a small sampling of the handshakes on display in Tanzania:

The Single-Grip: This is the standard handshake in the United States. Eye contact, firm grip, two to three nice vertical pumps—this is my comfort zone. I can execute this one with my eyes closed. Unfortunately, the Single-Grip is not nearly as common here in Tanzania as in the US. The Single-Grip has a market share of 30% in Tanzania.

The Triple-Grip: The most common handshake in Tanzania. Market share of 50%. It starts with the Single Grip. Then, each person rotates his or her thumb back towards him/herself and grips. Next, the hands return to the initial handshake position and make a third grip before releasing. This is definitely a cool looking handshake, so I can see why people here like it so much. However, it is very difficult to execute smoothly, as it takes a lifetime to perfect the timing and intricate motions of the three grips. I would advise those unfamiliar with the Triple-Grip to avoid it or risk intense embarrassment.

The Wild Card: Like the Triple-Grip, but with additional motions thrown in at random. Market share of 15%. The Wild Card is impossible to execute unless you have lived in Africa for your whole life. The Wild Card should be avoided at all costs.

The Pendulum: Relatively uncommon, but growing in popularity. Market share of 5%.  Preferred handshake when greeting foreign dignitaries or heads of state.  Start with a good firm grip and solid eye contact. Next begin swinging side-to-side in a pendulum motion. It is critical that the swing is smooth and not jerky at all. Maintain eye contact and a serious expression throughout. Discontinue when it becomes uncomfortable for both participants, but not before executing a minimum of six full back and forth swings. This handshake is definitely not as cool looking as the preceding ones, but it is easy to execute for novices, as long as they have nerves of steel.

Water Scarcity

By Elliott Ethridge

A primary objective for our team has been to build relationships with various academic, government, and private organizations working on clean and safe water sourcing initiatives. As a result of these efforts, we have begun to understand the gravity of the situation facing Tanzania and the neighboring countries.

Yesterday, we met with a woman named Thea who is heading up a branch of a Dutch NGO named Simavi. One of their ongoing projects has been to provide clean water sources to health clinics in the Dodoma area. Moreover, this NGO provides training on sanitation best practices for these health clinics. When asked about the current situation, we learned that a significant number of women in the area chose to give birth in their homes rather than at the clinics. The clinics don’t have water, have high infection rates, and are prone to a host of other problems including, of all things, bat infestations.

This information was entirely sobering, but not totally unexpected. Previously, we had traveled throughout the outskirts of Dodoma inspecting well (borehole) sites. These wells are comprised of a six inch pipe dropped 60 to 100 meters into the ground (depending on the level of the water table). Attached pumps are operated with either gas, electricity, or wind power. Water is pumped to elevated water tanks, which are then used to distribute water throughout the dry season. As we learned from the Simavi folks, these tanks are prone to contamination when not properly maintained.

The take away for our team was that the water crisis in Tanzania is a complicated mix of scarcity, politics and a lack of money and education. Simavi is doing an impressive job of carefully selecting project sites based on a mix of these factors. Once they’ve chosen a village, they research the situation more thoroughly and identify the best paths forward for securing clean, stable water supplies and educating the villagers on the best ways to maintain proper sanitation.

For our part, we were humbled by the gravity of the problems facing the people of Tanzania and eager to align departments at OSU in the efforts to help.

A Day Shadowing Simavi, an NGO Making a Difference in Dodoma

By Nick Ward

Today, Elliott and I paid a visit to a health clinic in the village of Kidoka in the Dodoma region of Tanzania. We were participating in a site confirmation visit with a group from Mkaji, a project being undertaken by the Dutch NGO Simavi in the Dodoma region. Mkaji is focused on improving the water and sanitation infrastructure of 100 rural health clinics in the Dodoma region.

The rural health clinic we visited

The rural health clinic we visited

One of Mkaji’s primary goals is to reduce infant mortality and mothers’ deaths from childbirth. Both are largely preventable if basic sanitation practices, such as hand washing, are in place. However, without the necessary infrastructure (such as hand washing stations) and training, it is very difficult for healthcare workers to provide sanitary care.

The Mkaji team we accompanied visited a clinic and pharmacy targeted for inclusion in a research project around sanitation and mortality. The clinic seemed quiet and out of the way. However, eight to ten births occur there every month, and there is huge potential for positive impact. We helped the Mkaji workers complete a detailed site survey, as well as a lengthy questionnaire about the clinic’s current water and sanitation practices.

A non operational rain water storage tank

A non operational rain water storage tank

The upgrades that Mkaji has proposed for the clinic include an elevated water tank, which will provide sufficient water pressure for a hand wash station, and a new bathroom that will be convenient for women after they have given birth. Construction will begin this year. In addition, a critical part of their engagement will be providing training. They will train the local healthcare workers and midwives on best practices for healthcare and sanitation. They will also train local technicians to maintain the new equipment to keep it in good working order. Finally, they will reach out to the local population and encourage them to come to the clinic with its good sanitation to give birth, as opposed to the popular, traditional method of giving birth at home.

It was a pleasure to shadow the Mkaji team and inspiring to see their dedication to helping improve the rural districts of their own country. Overall, it was a great opportunity to see an organization trying to make a real impact by improving both physical hardware and processes.

Nick and Elliott with the team from Mkaji

Nick and Elliott with the team from Mkaji

A week spent at University of Dodoma

By Mike Sargent

Our overarching goal while visiting the University of Dodoma (UDOM) was to continue strengthening the bond established between UDOM and The Ohio State University when Professor Mlacha visited Columbus in April.
We began and ended our week “taking tea” with Professor Mlacha in his office. His excitement and support for our visit was well above anything we would have ever anticipated. Additionally, his staff was wonderful developing a full schedule for us and remaining flexible as our interests led to different opportunities.

The group having tea with Dr. Mlacha in his office

The group having tea with Dr. Mlacha in his office

As part of our visit, we met with Vice Chancellors, Deputy Vice Chancellors, and professors from the School of Business, the College of Earth Sciences, the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, and the College of Health Sciences. We visited various areas of campus including the planned innovation cell, the library and the building that first housed the University of Dodoma.
The program planned for us extended beyond the campus and we visited local villages and officials collaborating with UDOM. Throughout the entire visit, we felt welcomed and enjoyed an open atmosphere that encouraged plenty of learning.
The final challenge from Professor Mlacha was to create value from our visit by continuing to build the partnership between UDOM and OSU as projects are identified and areas of collaboration established.

A Day in the Life of Оксана!

A Day in the Life – Оксана

One of the unexpected pleasures of working abroad for the month has been the opportunity to learn more about our colleagues, their preferences, and their lifestyles. To celebrate that opportunity, this blog (along with several others) is written to communicate some of the interesting things we have learned about each other over the course of this project.

Ms. Оксана

Having worked with Оксана on my core team for the year, I was well aware of her commitment to quality output and ability to focus on the core problem without becoming distracted by tangents. Thus, it was not surprising to learn that this attitude permeates her life.


Without fail, Оксана is the first to awake in the morning and station herself at our family-sized kitchen table. Here, she enjoys her morning drink of choice: tea. One of the first new things we quickly learned is Оксана’s passion for tea and preference for sachets. Though a deep dive into the types of tea she prefers and whether she is tolerant of loose leaf tea may be an area for future research. However, it is clear that regular teabags are not welcome in Ms. Komarova’s abode.

Often, by the time I have finished my first cup of coffee, Оксана has already departed for a full day of activity.


It is clear Оксана is at home in the city in both her manners and dress. From art museum, to coffee shop, to neighborhood store, she matches like a chameleon crawling among branches in a jungle. In Amsterdam, for example, scarves are a suave accessory and as ubiquitous as fanny packs at theme parks in the 80s. I, for one, wish Оксана had shared this information before our trip so that the rest of us could have been as fashion-prepared as she has been on this trip.

However, though she blends in seamlessly, she never seeks to hide. Instead she commits significant thought to demonstrating her affections for those around her. On our recent trip to a market, she thoughtfully discussed her gifts ideas for her family. Even this weekend when she was visiting Brussels, she emailed a list of ingredients and offered to cook the team breakfast on Memorial Day.


Though you might imagine an early riser is an early sleeper, this is hardly the case. Оксана is as capable of enjoying late evenings and is responsible for Team Amsterdam’s favorite way to pass the time. On one of our first nights, Оксана taught us a Russian Prison card game (we choose not to ask how she learned it) called Durak, Russian for ‘fool’. The game involves attacking and defending until only one player is left and declared the ‘fool’ (i.e. loser). This card game has become so popular among our team that we play it on a daily basis. The game is roughly 80% skill and 20% luck. We play macro games against opponents and track cards continually to avoid the title of ‘durak’.


The past month has been a significant learning experience. Beyond business, the interpersonal lessons have been invaluable and deepened my appreciation of each of my teammate’s unique strengths.


Amsterdam is an amazing city. For me, it’s a city full of interesting details.

Amsterdam is not planned for cars, and not for pedestrians. It respects only bicyclists. You have to be careful and attentive in order not to become a victim of a bicycle in this city. There are numerous variations of this vehicle in Amsterdam: bicycles with baskets, bicycles with a front seat for a kid, with a back seat for a kid, with the two seats for the kids, bicycles with the closed cabs at the front for the babies, and bicycles with an opened trailer for the dogs. And, they are parked all over the place! By our second week here, I stopped being surprised by a young father in a suit riding his bike with his two daughters and huge dog in a trailer. No wonder, Dutch men and women are really fit.


Amsterdam has a lot to offer to the visitors thanks to its history, and the ability of its citizens to preserve this history. Downtown Amsterdam is all about the canals and small, typical Dutch houses with sharp roof-tops and narrow windows. The houses here are so narrow that each of them have a hook at the top of the roof in order to facilitate moving in and moving out (all the furniture is taken into the house through the windows). The canal system is really picturesque; the majority of postcards with city views feature several shots of the canals.  Although we arrived a little bit too late for the tulips season, we still saw some really beautiful and unusual tulips near the main museum of the city.


I really enjoyed my staying in Amsterdam! Thank you Fisher and WD for such a great opportunity. And, I am especially glad that I went through this project with such a great team. Thank you, guys!  _DSC0891

Top Ten Animals Seen on Safari

By Mike Sargent

I could sit here and write a ten page post about our awesome safari experience. However,  I’d rather save my effort and your time (assuming anyone reads this post which is a huge assumption) than go on and on. Instead, here is my list of the Safari Top Ten.
Let the countdown begin:
#10 – Rhino
Only made the list because it’s Elliott’s favorite. Also, the lamest.
We were told that this is a rhino

We were told that this is a rhino

#9 – African Humping Turtles
Note: Picture censored for offensive content
The rare African Humping Turtle

The rare African Humping Turtle

#8 – Birds
Many various species were surprising and really cool to see. A combined effort allows them to make the top ten list.
Mike's new favorite bird

Mike’s new favorite bird

#7 – Hippos
I wish I could grunt as loud as they do! Fun fact: these guys are the biggest people killers in the Serengeti.
River full of hippos

River full of hippos

#6 – Baboons
Quite clever creatures. Funny story: We saw a baboon climb on someone else’s jeep and break into a box of apples. Luckily, he escaped with only four. Funnier still, he came back later and successfully stole another one.
Baby baboon riding on the back of an adult

Baby baboon riding on the back of an adult

#5 – Leopard
First big cat find of the safari. (Of course, I saw it first!). I shoulda won something,  but I have cheap teammates.
Leopard Cub climbing on a tree with his mom in the background

Leopard Cub climbing on a tree with his mom in the background

#4 – Cheetals
Not misspelled (according to our tour guide). Also pronounced “cheaters.” This cat should probably be higher on the list, but I’m too lazy to rearrange. We spent three extra hours looking for these cats, which led to an unintended night safari where we saw a lion stalking prey in the rain. AWESOME!
Yawning cheetah

Yawning cheetah

#3 – Elephants

By themselves sort of boring, but when you’re surrounded by forty of them it’s amazing. Also pretty cool when one chases the car, and you actually get away.

Reaching for the high branch

Reaching for the high branch

Elephants rolling in the mud.  Baby is having trouble getting up.

Elephants rolling in the mud. Baby is having trouble getting up.

#2 – Caracal (a small bobcat like animal)
Not really that amazing, but the fact that our tour guide hadn’t seen one in ten years increases the brag factor.
The elusive caracal

The elusive caracal

#1 – Lions
We parked three feet away from these lions (SIX!) and then ate our lunch. You know it’s exciting when the tour guide is taking selfies.
Up close and personal experience with a pride of lions

Up close and personal experience with a pride of lions

We counted 10 lions in this single tree

We counted 10 lions in this single tree

Top Five Quotes of the Trip

By Mike Sargent

As you might imagine, I’ve struggled to find areas where I could contribute to the team.

Luckily, I came up with an idea to record notable quotes. In complete disclosure, I did take a little liberty in exactly how I wrote down each one. Unfortunately, many of the best quotes did not qualify for this post as they were slightly offensive.
Here are the top five quotes from our trip:

“We have our two best minds on it so we should be okay.” – Nick

Context: Matter of fact statement while we waited at the Zanzibar ferry terminal for over an hour as Kurt and Carlos bought tickets.
(Spoken in a very threatening voice) “Hey guys, do we have anymore questions?!” – Elliott
Context: Elliott skipped breakfast on the day we toured various bore holes until well after 4pm…without stopping for lunch . He became very “hangry” at the last site visit.
Carlos: “I really like the bumper sticker on that car.”
Tanzanian Driver: “Yeah, so you can see it’s from Tanzania (Tan-ZON-ya)”
Carlos: “Yes, Tanzania (TAN-za-nia)”
Context: Without realizing it, Carlos corrected our driver’s pronunciation of Tanzania!
Mike: “Did you get him?”
Nick: “No. I scared him off, but I paid the price.”
Context: Standing outside the poultry farm, Nick attempted to kill a fly on his face. It flew away as he smacked himself very hard. Later discussion confirmed that the action taken was indeed the best case scenario. What’s the next step with a nasty, smashed fly on your face?
#1 (TIE)
“You guys are graduate students, right?” – Ms. Elizabeth
Context: The only other guest with us at the Forestry Lodge on SUA campus was an old lady who had returned to Tanzania after last being in-country in 1960 as part of the Peace Corps. She was quite upset that we were playing poker at 9:30pm. We weren’t even drinking! 
“When are you guys leaving?” – Ms. Elizabeth
Context: As Carlos returns to the lodge with a case of beer, he is greeted with this simple salutation.