It’s been a busy six months for Murray, starting a new job, travelling to new places and meeting new people. I’m now managing water supply systems and other infrastructure development for more than 2 million refugees in camps in 10 countries across East, Horn and Central Africa.
My first visit was to three camps along the northern border of South Sudan, where close to 200,000 refugees have crossed the border due to fighting in the North. I was involved in planning infrastructure for two new camps, and also upgrading infrastructure in the existing camps in the face of a Hepatitis E outbreak.
I then spent time at HQ in Geneva meeting the management team and learning the new internal organisation systems. While in Geneva I managed to catch up with a couple of old school friends from Auckland Grammar days, and had a Saturday snowboarding at Chamonix in France.
Direct from Geneva, I went to Uganda to meet with the team there for a strategic planning workshop. After spending a bit of time in Nairobi, my next trip was to Dadaab in Kenya, the biggest refugee camp in the world. In fact Dadaab is more like a small
city, with a population of close to half a million people (mostly Somalis escaping the fighting and drought in Somalia). The camp has been there for over 20 years and is now the third largest urban centre in Kenya, with a university, high schools, hospitals, piped water supply network and public transport system. Insecurity is an ongoing issue in Dadaab, so I stayed in a heavily protected compound, and all my trips out were with an armed police escort. My main objective for this visit was to manage the transition and contractual issues related to transferring water system network management to a new service provider for one section of the camp, and to follow up on a major groundwater aquifer study which
we have commissioned in conjunction with a University in Switzerland.
My next trip was to western Tanzania to a camp called Nyaragusu, which is home to 70,000 Congolese, who have fled the fighting in Eastern DRC, and travelled in boats across Lake Tanganyika to the safety of Tanzania. The camp is well established having been in existence for around 20 years. On this trip I met with a Japanese company selling water treatment systems, which had been
proposed for a water system upgrade at the camp. My job was to evaluate the current camp water supply system and treatment plant, and evaluate the Japanese system upgrade proposal.
After spending more time in Nairobi at the office, I was off again to Kakuma Refugee camp in Turkana Province in Kenya. This is another old camp with over 100,000 refugees from various parts of East and Central Africa, but primarily Somalis and South Sudanese. My key focus on this visit was to support the office with recruitment of some new engineering staff, and with strategic planning to the future expansion and management of water services and other infrastructure and engineering
services within the camp. At the same time we launched a new research project in conjunction with the Centre for Disease Control CDC for an innovative solar sanitation technology.
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