Plastic bottle water tanks – Mwera

What is the issue?

Many communities in Zanzibar do not have reliable access to water.

Conventional water storage solutions are not ideal: Plastic SIM tanks are expensive and often last only four or five years. Cement-brick tanks are more durable but are very expensive to construct and also consume a lot of scarce resources such as water, mangrove charcoal and other energy to make cement and fire the bricks. These factors put them beyond the reach of many Zanzibari communities.

The quality of the drinking water fluctuates. People who can afford it often drink bottled water which generates a large volume of plastic waste.

What is the solution?

German eco-entrepreneur Andreas Froese from Ecotec has developed a novel use for 1.5 litre plastic bottles – construction. Bottles can be filled with soil and non-organic waste then used as bricks for the construction of water tanks, latrines, and community gardens. This concept has been adopted in the community of Mwera in Zanzibar, where two 10,000 litre water tanks have been constructed using ‘bricks’ made from reused water bottles. The weight of plastic reused to build the tanks was considerably less than the conventional plastic ‘SIM tank.’ The sustainable water tanks use significantly less cement than a conventional brick tank and are much stronger and more durable than either construction alternative.

How do we help?

Sustainable East Africa helped by:

  • Supporting the Mwera Community organisation to construct two 10,000 litre water tanks using ‘bricks’ made from reused water bottles – the first plastic-bottle water tanks in Tanzania! SEA provided:
    • Expertise – this project is directed by Sustainable East Africa’s eco-technology expert Stephen Read who brought in two expert builders from Uganda to build the two water tanks and train community members in the novel construction technique.
    • Financial support for the project (SEA Trustee Steve Read funded this project privately).
    • Plastic bottles collected from around Zanzibar, including many beach communities which lack recycling facilities, and paid local people for the bottles they collected.