Maria Update 5

The rainy season has officially started. It has been marked by at least one torrential downpour each day. This is no Christchurch spittle; this is the kind of rain which carves channels through the roads, momentarily flooding them, it is the kind of rain with enough significance that everybody stops to watch.

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Mark Update 2

Cyclone Pam hits Vanuatu. Two out of five water tanks were destroyed. Progress until then had been thwarted by the arrival of Cyclone Pam. Fortunately, Mark was safe and returned to New Zealand within two weeks of the cyclone’s arrival.

Sofia Update 4

I am happy because I spent the majority of my holidays up on Ambrym, where Mark Holden is building some rainwater harvesting systems with the community, EWBNZ and Rotary.  The projects appear to be going well, and right on schedule with island time.

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Mark Update 1

An EWB volunteer, Mark Holden, who is also an engineer at Beca, will be spending six months in Ambrym between November 2014 and May 2015. He will be working with the local community, to construct a new rainwater harvesting system, and carrying out plumbers and management training so that the system will be maintained and managed well.

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Sofia Update 3

Last week we had an external Monitoring And Evaluation person to check on our progress from DFATs point of view.  Unfortunately, the funding came through from DFAT very late, and as our team has barely been set up, we have not made much progress.  He helped us align our thinking as a team and made sure we are headed in the right direction.  One thing he suggested was building of sanitation parks in the communities, showcasing a range of toilet and hand washing facilities, rather than Live and Learn's proposed demo toilet, which would just showcase compost toilets.

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Sofia Update 2

I have been at work for two weeks now, and I have figured out what I am here to do.  This is great news, as I was finding the job description too vague and broad for my liking.  The job description is vague, because I am supporting a team, which is doing a lot!

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Maria Update 4

This week I’ve done some travelling around Santo, and a curious phenomena I’ve seen is the practice of placing a bottle filled with water on top of the electricity meter. On Sunday I drove to the Lope Lope river to swim with my flatmate Liz and her sister, as this is where some of their extended family live. According to some, this makes the meter tick over slower. Things definitely work differently in Vanuatu!

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Maria Update 3

The locals call it Santo Village, but the Americans called it Luganville. Here in the biggest settlement on Espiritu Santo is where i’ll be spending the next 6 weeks, living on campus in one of the flats at Santo East Primary Secondary School. The town itself is a hodgepodge of buildings, concrete footpaths, and high gutters for the rainy season. There are hand-painted signs, even for international banks which adds character to the street side. The marketplace also provides a central meeting point of the town. Here, peanuts, pineapple, mango and taro and be obtained for a fraction of the cost of most fruit and vegetables in New Zealand.

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Maria Update 2

Shops selling solar panels, batteries, and other components are literally everywhere in Port Vila and Luganville.  Some are sold in ‘green power’ shops and others are leaned up against the display windows or positioned by shop entryways along with clothing, toys, and other household goods.  Solar is far from unknown in Vanuatu.  In fact in a country where approximately 70% of people have no access to electricity, solar is quickly becoming the energy source of choice.

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Sofia Update 1

I have been spending the last month reading about Vanuatu, and thinking about how my current engineering knowledge can be applied to their specific needs.  However, it all goes back to what is on the ground.  Like we say at work, there is no substitute for a good site visit.  I have received a huge amount of support at work in terms of technical knowledge, and I am very grateful to my team at MWH for this.

In addition to this, I have been on a bit of a shopping spree for mozzie nets, sun screen, first aid kits and other useful items! I am looking forward to starting work in Port Vila with Live and Learn on the 10th of November.