CAS African Affairs: From rainmakers to handheld condensers

Center for African Studies, University of Basel
PD Dr. Jürg von Ins
Project paper
12.5.2014

“Schaffen wirst du aus dunklem Regen rechtzeitige Trocknis
den Menschen, schaffen wirst du aber auch aus sommerlicher Trocknis
baumernährende Güsse, die dem Himmel entströmen.”
Empedokles (495-435 v.C.), Peri Physeos, Fragment 111

Table of Contents
1. Preface: Concerning Methods
2. Introduction
3. What is the problem with water?
– On a global scale
– In Senegalese Sahel
– In Dakar
– In Toubab Dialao
4. What practicable solutions are at hand?
5. What others solutions are to be developed?
6. What political problems might occur?
7. Annex: Questionnaires
8. Sources

1. Preface: Concerning Methods

Water is a sparkling subject that attracts the interest of many different disciplines like for example hydrology, hydrogeology, medicine, engineering sciences and anthropology. Therefore the development of solutions to water-related problems often involve several methods at a time. The present study touches sociological questions of public distribution, hydrogeological questions concerning the groundwater table, economic aspects, religious symbolisms of water and the sea and last but not least engineering knowhow concerning condensation, purification and desalination of water. Such a courageous mix of methods is necessary to solve practical problems.
I focus on water for consummation (bottles, tub). As I am raising a project in the semi-rural area of Toubab Dialao I have indeed a practical problem with water: Often there is none.
I go from a research based on literature embedding the local problem in national and global contexts. I will complete this brief outline of the problem by a small-scale, low-budget field-research in Toubab Dialao (beginning March 2014).
I know from 30 years of experience that the problem with water in Senegal is distribution. Therefore I try to get a first overview of practicable, individual solutions. In a next step I will select some field experiments (beginning April 2014).

I focus on water for consummation (bottles, tub). As I am raising a project in the semi-rural area of Toubab Dialao I have indeed a practical problem with water: Often there is none.
I go from a research based on literature embedding the local problem in national and global contexts. I will complete this brief outline of the problem by a small-scale, low-budget field-research in Toubab Dialao (beginning March 2014).
I know from 30 years of experience that the problem with water in Senegal is distribution. Therefore I try to get a first overview of practicable, individual solutions. In a next step I will select some field experiments (beginning April 2014).

2. Introduction
The principal factors influencing agricultural production are composition of soil, temperature, light, humidity (relation precipitation/ evaporation) and knowhow. As I work in a Sahel-state I will focus on arid and semi-arid zones. As Sahel is a region with high fertility rate per capita, small-scale-agricultural production is crucial for subsistence. But the region is highly menaced by desertification boosted by monoculture (peanuts) and climate change. Huge deposits of laterite serve today to construct roads and houses.
Days without water from the tub during my stays in Senegal again and again made me think of the Saltigué of Ngalagne, the rainmaker and diviner of a nearby Serer-village. It was a hot and dried-out summer. Rain fell at the climax of the ritual, of course in Ngalagne only.
A bio-farmer working in the same region as I do (Toubab Dialao, Petite Côte, Senegal) has deepened his well during the last ten years from 25 to 40 meters.As nearby a new airport will open soon a construction boom shakes the area. Real estate prices get higher, wells get deeper. The village will quickly transform into a city.
So the question arises:
How to provide water without lowering the groundwater table?

The soil is dry, rainfalls irregularly, but the ocean is near and there is a lot of humidity in the air. Therefore I investigate possibilities to harvest water from the air (active and passive solutions). But to round up the field I will also be concerned with desalination and pipelines. […]

Full text (17 pages): Project Paper_JvI_CAS

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