I travelled to the very Western edge of Ethiopia with staff from WaterAid UK to create the educational film called Learning by Doing. WaterAid wanted their staff, both in Ethiopia, and in other regions of the world, to be able to maximize their resources by learning lessons from each project that they worked on. Their philosophy was to iterate often, learning from each round of work in order to improve the next round of work, much the way Agile software teams manage their production.
Over the course of several days we travelled around very remote regions of the country examining water and sanitation projects. One of the challenges WaterAid faces in this region, when installing water pumps, is finding replacement parts for the standard well pumps. Therefore, WaterAid had been developing their own pump. WaterAid’s pump only used parts which were available locally, such as bicycle wheels, rope, rubber washers, and PVC pipe.
We examined 5 bicycle pump water projects that had been build in rapid succession, each one learning from the past project’s performance. Parts that wore out too quickly were replaced with stronger alternatives, always with the thought in mind that the parts had to be available on the local market.
WaterAid was testing several methods of ‘pit’ latrines in the region as well as other processes and policies that we checked in on, documenting and collecting data for the continuation of their ‘Learning by Doing.’
In addition to conducting all the interviews for the film, I was the sole camera operator and sound technician on this shoot. i shot with a Sony EBG type camera and Sennheiser shotgun mic, as well as a wireless lav microphone for interviews. I met some wonderful people in Western Ethiopia, who I keep in touch with on Facebook.
Helen Pankhurst narrates the piece beautifully, and was instrumental in making the film happen. She was the executive director of WaterAid UK in Ethiopia at that time, and took a strong lead in the direction of the film. And her account, well, listen to the film just for Helen’s accent.