Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
In Dar es Salaam, March signifies the end of Tanzania's summer which starts somewhere around December. During the summer, the sun is already unbearable by 7 a.m. and the ridiculous humidity means you'll be drenched in sweat before you can even make it from home to the office.
In addition to relief from the scorching heat, the end of summer also brings with it rain-buckets and buckets of rain. It rains almost every morning from about 6:00 am to 8:00- just in time for the morning commute. Heavy downpours come out of nowhere in the middle of the night with thunder loud enough to wake a person from a sound sleep and wind gusts strong enough to blast curtains open. The rain also seems to enjoy marathon sessions on Saturday afternoons, complete with menacing skies and enough water to keep all but the most determined inside.
In the city the rain complicates morning commutes, forms huge puddles in the dips and valleys of bad roads and turns unpaved stretches of road into huge mud holes barely fit for travelling by foot. In parts of the city where the open drainage system has been blocked by haphazard construction of homes or shops or masses of trash and leaves that accumulated throughout the dry season redirected water often floods homes and business leaving citizens to grab a bucket and bail out the water as best they can.
Upcountry things are much worse. Flashfloods carry away livestock, as well as elderly people and children. Puddles as big as lakes spring up and children must balance books atop their heads, remove their shoes, hitch up skirts and uniform pants and wade through knee-deep water to make their way to school. In places where the landscape forms fast flowing channels of water children simply stay home for days at a time until the water recedes enough to cross carefully.
Like the weather, a lot of things have changed in the office. The last few months have been strongly geared towards proposal writing so a lot of time is spent researching, accessing the efficacy of existing systems and brainstorming ways that these systems can be improved. Since February, I've provided support on two major proposals and we're currently in the process of writing another one. Also, we're wrapping up one of our biggest programs in June so I anticipate at least one visit to our field office in Dodoma to provide support on things such as end of project reporting and documenting best practices. Although it's tough to imagine wrapping things up here, it seems very appropriate that the end of my fellowship will coincide with the end of a major project.