Kunavelela Community Windmill Project Report Part Two

For Part One, please see the previous post. Pictures are being added as they are processed for the web. Please check back.

The Kunavelela Community Project. This section of the report describes the implement a windmill, tank stand with tanks and a basic irrigation system for the community vegetable garden located in the village of Hluvukani, South Africa.

Report written and submitted by Andi Webster, 2 February 2012
© Andi Webster – all text and photographs

Installation 22 January to 28 January 2012

Day 1

Marina Muller and her team of helpers Joshua, Moses and Tsintsi arrived at about 11am after driving through the night from Bloemfontein. We met the team in Hoedspruit and provided an escort for the 70km to the village. Windmill Arrives in HluvukaniThe windmill was transported as a series of loose components packed into a trailer, which could then be assembled on-site.

Despite their overnight journey, Marina and her team got straight to work and after unpacking all of the components, the frame was carried down into the garden so that we could correctly measure the distance between holes to dig that would ensure the windmill was properly anchored and placed.

As the day progressed, conditions became uncomfortable with the temperature increasing to 35ºC. Despite this, Marina and her team managed to do the necessary to ensure the stand was properly seated and level.Raising the Windmill - Hluvukani

While the installation team was completing their preparations, Smilling and I collected bags of cement and other building supplies from a local hardware store. We were unable to buy gravel from the usual supplier and finally managed to purchase two buckets of lose gravel from someone in the village who was building a home. Harry enlisted the help of two youngsters to collect wheelbarrow loads of river sand and water just outside the site, which was then transferred into a large basin on the other side of the fence and used to mix the cement.

Once the holes were ready and the concrete mixed, the windmill was raised and seated into the holes and carefully levelled. Finally the stand was cemented into place.Mixing Cement

Throughout the day, members of the village came to assist and partake in the excitement. Granny Winnie and Mamma Nora arrived to check on the proceedings and progress while I spent some time with Mamma Assa learning about the different crops they had planted for the summer season and how they could be used for traditional medicine.

Windmill supporting peopleAt 6pm, after the first hot, exciting and productive day we cleaned up the site, stored our supplies and equipment for the following day in Winnie s shed. We made arrangements to meet back at the vegetable garden early in the morning the following day and left for the night giving the concrete a chance to set and dry.

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Day 2

Due to the weather conditions, we thought it practical to begin our labours early in the morning before the heat set in and were on site and making preparations by 6.30am. Moses had already laid out the 78m pipe and threaded the steel cable through it by the time we got there and we spent the beginning of our morning assembling the pipes and fittings for the main cable.

Once the cable was laid out and all the fittings were in place, the grip was attached, which is a welded steel contraption the teeth attached to one end of the cable. The GripThis is fed down into the borehole, leaving about 2m for freedom of movement and security for the movement of the cable. The grip is connected to a piece of long rope and this is held taught while the cable is lowered into the borehole. Once the cable is correctly placed, the rope is allowed to slack and the teeth of the grip automatically fall open against the side Bottom of wellof the well ensuring stability of the cable and anchoring of the working parts attached to the other end of the cable. Once the cable has been lowered and cut to measurement, the other end of the rope is attached to the inside of the base plate within easy reach in case of repairs and the base plate then covers the well opening and keeps out debris.

Making sure the cable is properly seated is a lengthy and precise process and Marina explained it step by step pointing out all the relevant working parts before the cable was fed into the borehole opening.Drive Everything that is needed to fit the head of the windmill is taken up by pulley and assembled 6m above the ground using a T-stand lashed to the main structure.

Moses and Joshua did most of the assembly from up high while Tsintsi worked on the ground, passing up tools and levering the necessary parts up with the pulley system.Fitting the head of the windmill By 10am, the temperature was 32ºC so we took a break for breakfast and went to get some last minute clamps and other fittings needed for later in the day.

We returned to the site after our purchasing trip in the village and Moses and Joshua laid out the pieces for the attaching the head in the correct order. The heaviest task was levering the windmill head up and into the stand, Smilling, Moses and I really had to put our backs into raising the heaving component to the top of the windmill. As the arms and blades were passed up one by one and attached to the head, the windmill started to take shape.

Everyone pitched in, helping to raise loose components up to Moses and Joshua who sometimes,Attaching blades to the windmill balanced rather precariously fitted things together piece by piece.

While progress was being made on assembling the head of the windmill, a group of young soccer players lead by Life and Forgive helped dig and prepare the 200m long trench running adjacent to the fence-line that houses the pipe connecting the windmill to the water tanks.

A group of four Grandmothers (Nora, Eva, Violet, and Assa) focussed on clearing the site for the tank stand of scrub and low lying shrubs with hoes and rakes and levelling the ground for the following day s tank stand installation.

Despite the steadily increasing temperature, (38ºC) the various teams continued with their preparations and Windmill Tailby three in the afternoon, Moses, Joshua and Tsintsi had completed the assembly of the windmill head, all blades were flush and joined and the blades turned smoothly for the first time.

There was still much work to be done however, the tail still needed to be attached to the head, this is used to catch the wind from whichever direction it is coming from and to direct the blades on the head into the wind so that the mechanism can pump.

It was also necessary to connect the cable underground to the working parts of the head with a 6m chain, tighten the joins, fit the oiled components and cover onto the head of the windmill and to attach the break and cable.

We still needed to lay the 150m of piping that would connect the borehole to the tanks and Moses did a great job of making sure that Rotarian at Work - laying pipethe connections were tight and secure while Harry, Smilling, Life, Forgive and I rolled out the pipe and seated it in the trench that had been created earlier in the day.

The cables had been tested and retested, kinks in the chain were worked out, the head was filled with oil and all the working bits and pieces were well greased and finally the break handle was attached to the frame and tightened, seating the break so that the windmill was secure.

We could not resist the temptation to test the windmill and we had sufficient wind to drive the pump so we released the break and waited while the pump drew water up from 80m below the ground, along 100m of piping and all of a sudden there was water.

By 5pm we had the entire system installed and knew for sure that it worked. There was much cheering and excitement as we watched the windmill turning for the first time. Marina and her team got the job finished in under their allocated time and were leaving early the next morning. Smilling thanked Marina, Moses, Joshua and Tsintsi for their hard work and everyone made their way, exhausted to their respective homes for dinner and a well- deserved rest.

Day 3

Due to the bad weather in the lowveld the week before commencement of the project, Chris from Hoedspruit Steel was unable to get to the village in time to prepare the holes and pour the cement to which the tank stand would later be attached. We agreed it would be best to get the stand up on the first day, giving it a full day and a bit to dry before commencing work on the platform and raising the tanks. This shifted the schedule a bit but we wanted to ensure the stands stability rather than getting it done ahead of schedule. This meant that the tank stand, in total would take 3 days to erect from start to finish.

Harry, Smilling and I met Chris and his team on the main road of the village at 9am Wednesday Morning and followed them to the installation site.

Frame and equipment arrive - HluvukaniChris and his team came equipped with welding machines, generator, bags of cement, stone and gravel all hidden under the huge frame of the tank stand which was to be assembled on site.

We were unable to get the structure through the double gate of the vegetable garden so had to open up a section of the fence closer to the installation site which allowed freedom of movement and easier access for the bulky frame which arrived in two separate pieces.

Once the frame had been moved into the garden, the team measured out the area and marked sites for the placement of the feet. Carry FrameThe holes were dug to accommodate specially constructed re-enforced steel frames that would add support to the base of the structure. While the digging of holes progressed, the frame was assembled and bolted together for stability and to ensure that all components were level. The structure was then securely welded together. Half of the team focussed their efforts on supporting the structure during welding and the other half dug holes about 1m deep to accommodate the long legs.

It took a good 4 hours to make the preparations for the tank stand to be fully welded, for the holes to be deep enough and the specially constructed steel frames placed and ready before the stand was moved and lifted into place.

The site was a hive of activity, and the Kunavelela team withdrew to the sidelines for a bit of shadesign painting and took the opportunity to conclude some administration details and paint the galvanized metal sheets we had purchased for the project that we could use as sign boards.

Once the stand had been up-ended and placed with feet in the holes and adjusted until the structure was levelled and properly seated, the specially constructed re- enforced steel frames were welded onto the feet to add extra stability to the structure and re-enforce the concrete blocks holding the structure in place.

well waterEasy access to water from the windmill came in handy when the cement needed to be mixed and the grandmothers loaded buckets and transported just under 100l carried on their heads up to the installation site. While the cement was being mixed and poured into the anchoring holes, and small welding jobs completed before leaving the stand to set in the concrete, Harry, Smilling, Niah and I went to deliver the equipment purchased for the clinic.

The day before Harry and Smilling had spoken with Erick, one of the village Nduna s (Headman) who agreed to intervene on our behalf with the local municipality and get them to assist the project with the removal of rocks from the vegetable garden.

I had spoken to Dean when in Canada about the best way to address the municipality s ongoing reluctance to assist the project and suggested that we supply much needed medical equipment to the clinic as a way of showing good faith to the community and in turn using this to barter favour with the municipality. We left the tank stand team to finish cementing the tank stand in place and went to collect Erick so that he could accompany us on our visit to the clinic and learnmore about the project.

Harry, Smilling, Niah and myself collected Erick from his home in the village to deliver medical equipment to the value of R3 287 that was needed. Simon, the clinic manager met us outside and welcomed our support and assistance. A number of nursing staff came to assist with unpacking the equipment and after everything had been inspected and Smilling tested one of the BP cuffs to see it was working, we took the opportunity to arrange for Niah to attend in house training sessions with the clinic staff to improve her medical knowledge and add skills to her repertoire for home-based care.

We look forward to a mutually beneficial arrangement with the clinic and hope in the future to provide further assistance, equipment and support to the valuable services they provide. The clinic equipment donated is listed below: 2 x Blood pressure cuffs with stethoscopes 1 x Baby’ s scale 4 x Digital pen thermometers 2 x boxes of sterile, long, non-allergenic surgical gloves 2 x gynaecological speculums 8 x 20cm kidney dishes 1 box of 2.5ml syringes with needles 1 box of 5ml syringes with needles 1 box of 10ml syringes with needles 1 box of suturing thread and holders 2 x prs artery clamps 2 x prs needle holder clamps.

Having finished our business at the clinic, we returned to the vegetable garden to check on the progress being made with the tank stand to find all 6 legs had been secured and the concrete mixture poured and already hardening in the afternoon sun. We spent the remainder of the afternoon discussing issues with Erick and communicating the progress the project hopes to make in the future with the support of respected community members and other Nduna’s in the village. We gave the cement a full 24 hours to set before raising the tanks and attaching the fittings and fixtures.

Day 4

As Harry and Smilling needed to be back at work and there was little to do in the village apart from watch the cement dry, I took the opportunity to drive down to Nelspruit to get the fittings and fixtures needed for connecting the pipes to the tanks. Whilst in Nelspruit I did some research and sourcing of prices for laptop computer options for Harry and Smilling as it is becoming increasingly necessary as project managers to be able to have unlimited communication and take on a more administrative role within their project. Harry and Smilling used to have free access to computer facilities at work, however this is no longer possible due to a new password protection system that management has installed. They now have very sporadic and limited communication with donors, sponsors and myself (cell phone coverage is limited in the reserve and land lines are often down due to weather conditions) and after discussions we feel it necessary that they are equipped with their own laptops so that they can access email and manage the project better from work on a regular basis. A laptop each may seem excessive given the level of computer literacy but there is no other alternative taking into account the fact that Harry and Smilling have different work and leave schedules. Unfortunately I was unable to purchase the computers due to insufficient stocks but once I arrived back in Johannesburg managed to find the necessary equipment and am awaiting a decision by the board on whether or not these can be purchased.

Day 5

With Harry and Smilling back at work, I went to the village alone to oversee the completion of the installation of the tanks and pipes with fittings for irrigation. Chris and his team arrived with the ladder and final bits and pieces to complete the installation of the tank stand and while the team unpacked their gear, Matthius and I discussed the layout for the pipes, fittings and connections.

Before welding the ladder in place, Matthius and Ben worked out the height at which it needed to be clamped for attachment to the stand, making access relatively easy for adults but high enough to deter the small children in the village from being able to reach it. While Ben and Victor steadily worked their way up the ladder welding it into place and attaching it on to the tank stand, Jo touched up the welded areas with red oxide paint to help prevent rusting. Matthius focused his attention on co-ordinating efforts and measuring and fitting pipes. Once the ladder was welded into place, the next step was to measure and fit the individual slats that would make up the platform on which the tanks would rest. The welding machine and individual slats were pulled up one by one, and used as a makeshift scaffold for the guys to stand on while welding a piece at a time on to the very top of the frame. Matthius was kind enough to measure, cut and fit separate pieces of metal that were welded onto the frame giving firm support to the main outlet pipe constructed for the on/off valves and the tap.

It was at this juncture we had our first and only glitch during the project. Sparks thrown down by the welding above fell into the paint can being used for touch-ups and caught fire, Jo was stranded 3m high on the structure and had to drop the burning paint can onto the ground which then spilled in a pool of flame at the bottom of the tank stand. Fortunately Jo was uninjured and we put out the fire with a bit of sand. A couple of minutes later, everyone was back at work, the excitement forgotten and the last slat was welded to the stand.

By two in the afternoon with time running short and the temperature at 38ºC, we still had a lot of work to do and needed to get the tanks onto the platform. Long ropes were attached to the front of the tank stand platform and laid out onto the ground; the first tank was placed so that the ropes were underneath the container. Two long metal struts were placed at an angle between the platform and the ground acting as a support for when the tank was elevated. The ropes were then past over the tank, and up and around to fall loose at the back of the tank stand. Life had enlisted the help of a few more men in the village and while they all listened to Matthius instructions everyone placed themselves where they needed to be. With co-ordinated pulling of the left and right ropes from the back of the stand, and rolling and lifting of the tank from the front and underneath, the tank started to rise towards the platform. Once the tank was flush against the lip of the platform, the long metal struts were raised manually to help get the tank over the lip of the platform. Once on the platform, the tank had to be rocked to get it standing upright, only then could it be shifted into position so that the inlet pipe going up the side of the stand could be connected.

The process was repeated for the second tank, but space was very limited on top of the platform and there was much less room for manoeuvrability. Matthius and Ben co-ordinated from the platform and the team underneath had to maintain a fine balance of leverage and waiting while things were positioned correctly. The second tank made for a dangerous and difficult few minutes but with a lot of teamwork they managed to get it in position safely. Once both tanks were up on the platform, the interconnecting pipes were fitted together, using a T connection, one for the left tank, another for the right tank and the middle one was connected to the outlet pipe, and drawn all the way down the structure to join the tap and the and the main outlet valves. When all the fittings and connections were level, connected and clamped, the tanks are adjusted to their final positions and secured to the platform using long strands of stout wire. With all the fittings connected and checked, the job was finally done and we helped Chris and his team pack up their vehicle and clean up the site while we waited for water to make it s way slowly into the tanks.

The wind had died down during the afternoon so we had to wait a while before we knew that everyone was working. At 16h47 on the afternoon of Friday, the 27th January, the firstdrops of water splashed into the tanks, the drumming of drops on the plastic was greeted with laughter, dancing and smiles all round. With the sound of water filling the tanks in the background, Matthius, Ben, Jo and Victor made their departure for a well-deserved weekend amidst handshakes and waving Granny s after a very long, but immensely successful day.

After finishing a few final details, I left Mamma Assa and the other Granny’s to monitor the un- breaked windmill overnight so that the tanks could fill. Only two joins connect the 150m pipeline from the windmill to the tanks and these have been left exposed so that when the water tanks are full and pressure is at its best we can check the joins for leaks. In the interim, the outlet valves have been stoppered to build pressure and 120m of piping awaits connection as irrigation pipes to various parts of the garden.

Once the pressure has been allowed to build and the pipes checked for leaks, the joins in the pipeline will be covered up to protect the line and prevent disintegration caused by the elements. As a final touch, small rocks collected from around the site will be painted yellow and placed on the surface, delineating the underlying pipes and providing protection when any heavy machinery is used for ploughing or rock removal.

Day 6

During the previous day, while most of the attention was focused on getting the tank stand complete and the tanks up and connected, Life and Patrick worked hard to finish the signboards so that it was dry for putting up the following day. The logo used for the vegetable garden is an original Corey Mah Design. Corey, a former student at the University of Emily Carr has given us permission to use this piece for the project, Life worked hard to do the original justice. I arrived early on Saturday morning to assist Life, Mamma Assa and Manyike with putting up the signs and a finishing touch here and there to make sure the process was indeed complete and ready for Dean’s inspection the following week. The signboard turned out beautifully and with a bit of hammering, climbing and stretching we managed to secure the signs to the tank stand.

As a Community project we are well aware of the responsibility we have to make sure that our actions and good intentions do not cause harm to the people in the village and I took the liberty of looking for a sign when I was in Neslpruit. I couldn t find anything suitable at any of the Hardware stores I tried, so had to improvise and I purchased loose letters and created our own, informing members of the community that the water from the borehole has not been tested and is not safe for drinking. Our intention when installing the borehole, windmill and tanks was to provide water for year round irrigation in the vegetable garden, and not to provide another location for water collection and use in the home. However, we have no control over what people do with the water they collect here and thought it best to safeguard both the sponsors and the project from any potential liability.


The completion of this project from start to finish would not have been possible without a little luck and the hard work, dedication and support of so many people.

The area received over 500ml of rain the previous week in a period of two days and the Olifants, Nwaswitsontso, Zand Spruit, Manyeleti and Sabi rivers flooded their banks causing severe damage to bridges, roads and other structures cutting off access to the Hoedspruit area. The waterfall situated just near the Strydom tunnel on the decent off the escarpment, which is usually just a trickle was in full flow, an unusual sight, so We were incredibly fortunate to have had good weather during the week of installation, although at times it was uncomfortably hot and humid. Over 3000 photographs were taken during the week of installation documenting each and every step of the process. No injuries were sustained and no accidents occurred during installation, which is not to be overlooked considering the weight of the structures installed and the height at which the teams were working.

Final Records (see spreadsheet summery and itemized billing on second attachment) indicate that the donated funds came to a total of R96 384.04 of which R12 083.02 consisted of bridging finance from RCBI and will need to be deducted from incoming funds when the District Grant settles their portion.

Expenditure in total for the installation amounted to R83 281.82, coming in well under budget of the funding raised by RCBI, Rotary Burnaby and the District. We request from the board that the remaining R9311.63 of already donated funds be used to purchase laptop computers for Harry and Smilling, the shortfall for this will be covered by the Kunavelela account and repaid back to the project once District funds are received.

The Kunavelela Community Project and village members of Hluvukani wish to thank the following individuals and Organizations for their assistance, involvement and co-ordination, without which this dream would not have become a reality.

Rotary Club of Bowen Island: Members of the board; Eva Churcher, Jim Connor, Piers Hayes, John Hazel, Dennis Lynn, Bawn Cambell, Robert Ballantyne, Dai Roberts without your initial interest and continued support, this project would not have been possible at all. Eva and Jim a special thanks for co-ordinating on your end. Sheila Webster for your dedication and hard work in the raising of funds and co-ordinating bulb sales. Robin and Hilary Butler, Michael Barber, Sheila McCall, Pat Boston, Trudy Helenis, Portia Lynn, Dr Sue Schlogel, Ian Henley, Sheila McKinnon, Wendy Roberts, Bruce Haggerstone, Mary Nicolls and Lynn Williams for assisting logistically and giving of your time.

Rotary Club of Burnaby: Dean Rohrs for initially pointing us in the right direction, your recommendations, introductions and hard work to assist with funding and finding our way through Rotary Channels, and for making the time to come and see the results of our hard work on your visit to the village during February. Azim Raghavji  President for allowing us to introduce the project to your club and all other members of the Burnaby Club for your support, encouragement and partnership.

Other Rotary Members (Various clubs) District 5040: Penny and Chris Offer (Ex-District Governor), Hans Doge (District Governor), Ken Wilson (Assistant District Governor), Judith Harder (West Vancouver Sunrise Club), Bill Witte (President West Vancouver Club), Yazdi Khapoliwala (President Liongate Club), Elizabeth Chong (Lionsgate Rotary Foundation), Shirley- Pat Gale (President Daybreak Williams Lake Club), Laurent Perin for your interest and support and allowing us to present the Kunavelela Community Project to your clubs.

Marina Besproeing – Windmill Installation. Marina Muller, Moses, Joshua and Tsintsi, thank you for bringing your expertise, experience, commitment to hard work, quick thinking and ability to get the job done on schedule with the minimum of fuss. We so appreciate the long hours you worked up high in the heat.

Hoedspruit Steel – Tank Stand, Tank and pipe connections. Chris Hanekom, Mattheus, Ben, Christo, Busani, Daniel, Victor, Lazarus, Jimmy, Jolly and Joel Thank you for accommodating our schedule despite the difficulties you faced due to flooding and lack of electricity in your workshop during the week prior to installation. Your professional conduct, workmanship and organization of delivery and construction are much appreciated.

Hluvukani Village. Thanks to Life and Forgive for helping to prepare the trenches for the water pipes and assisting with muscle power and extra hands where needed. Patrick and Life for all your hard work and artistic talent in getting the signs painted and ready for installation. Granny’s Assa, Violet, Nora, Eva, Irene for clearing the site in preparation for the tank stand, fetching and carrying water and providing whatever assistance was needed to ensure the teams had the necessary ablution facilities on site. Granny Winnie for storing the tanks, pipes and work equipment in your house for safe keeping and allowing us to use your yard as a construction site. Benjamin, your assistance with logistics and on site management is much appreciated. Nduna Erick for your assistance and support of the project.

Harry and Smilling, the dedication you show in assisting your community is to be commended and acknowledged despite all of the issues and lack of access to resources. Thanks again for taking the time off work to ensure you were in the village during installation to help with communications, logistical aspects of in-village workings and being so willing to organize whatever was needed by the teams.

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3 Responses to Kunavelela Community Windmill Project Report Part Two

  1. Pingback: Kunavelela Garden in Hluvukani, South Africa | Bowen Island Rotary

  2. Pingback: Bulbs that flower in more than one way - Independent Newspaper Articles

  3. Sibongile says:

    They all did a great job. That’s wonderful. Now the community’ll plant vegies, help poor families.

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