Scene 2: Not Reinventing the Wheel


This is the third year of water and sanitation work in Langrug. The 2013 WaSH team read the past projects relating to water and sanitation as the first research step of the prep term.  Also, the current team completed research on sustainability and how it applies to a water and sanitation facility. The current team noticed a trend in which the previous Langrug teams have proposed plans describing the next steps following their departure. The WaSH team soon discovered that they are unintentionally following the trend.

Cast of Characters:

Scott, Lorraine, and WPI students

Setting:work from home

St. John’s Lodge, where the students live and occasionally work. The WaSH team worked from home to focus their effort on the analysis of the current WaSH facility and the first stages of the plan for the Zwelitsha facility.


Over the weekend, the team received feedback on our assessment of the current facility. Scott suggested restructuring the assessment around the four pillars of sustainability, which we had developed during the prep term. The four pillars are economic, environmental, social, and institutional sustainability. We had been using a checklist to evaluate WaSH facilities and we realised we had neglected several aspects to include in our assessment.

Graphic from previous WaSH Project

Graphic from previous WaSH Project

Later, when we were creating the planning document that will guide our work and the steps necessary for the Zwelitsha facility, we started to feel déjà vu. We scrambled to find the images that were popping into our minds. We searched through the executive summaries of previous projects until we found the graphics we were recollecting. The two diagrams form part of the last two years’ WaSH projects.

Graphic from previous WaSH project

Graphic from previous WaSH project

By relooking at these two graphics, we were amused at how much the diagrams relate to our project. We realised the planning we had been doing independently matched with the next steps that previous years had anticipated. More specifically, we realized that we are mostly completing “Phase III: When WPI Returns” last year’s WaSH team had planned and continuing the “WaSHUp Process” by planning for the Zwelitsha facility without even knowing it. It gave us a sense of reassurance because we will be continuing the WaSH trend of the project centre.

Reflection and Learning:

When conducting continuous projects in a certain field, you will often find yourself following the goals outlined by the people before you. Part of tthe preparation for this project required us to read about previous WaSH-related projects. Being familiarized with previous projects prevents us from repeating the same processes. It also allows us to modify it to fit your specific situation. For example, our Zwelitsha facility plan is going to be modeled after the current WaSH facility. Many projects in the Cape Town Project Centre cannot be completed over the course of a year, so the CTPC allows for students to build upon the foundation previous students have created.