AllyCAD Showcase

'In Search Of Water'

Botswana Department of
Water Affairs

"You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water," said Rabindranath Tagore, an Indian poet and philosopher. In April 2000, Sanjiva K. Sharma stopped staring at the Indian Ocean and arrived in Gaberone from the sub-continent with his family. "I wanted to have a new challenge," he says simply.

Sanjiva is halfway through a second three-year contract as Senior Water Engineer with the Botswana Department of Water Affairs. "I would like to stay, my family and I are very happy here, but that is at the discretion of my parent employer in India, Upjalnigam."

His division is divided into three units - design, construction and contracts - with Sanjiva responsible for the latter. All external consultants report to Sanjiva, as well as any in-house resources that undertake small projects.

Sanjiva has had to contend with one of the things an engineer loathes - flat terrain. "Added to the flat terrain is the fact that 80-90% of ground water in Botswana is a long way away from the population. We often have to pump water 30-40km to the people, as we can't use gravity."

To say that Sanjiva was thrown into the deep-end is metaphorical nonsense in Botswana, but immediately after arriving, five big projects were started. Sanitation schemes in Serowe, Mahalapye, Ghanzi, Balapye, and Donota - surprisingly the names roll easily off his tongue - provided an excellent introduction to his adopted country. The locations are scattered right across the vast plains of Botswana. Construction is not yet complete on all of the projects; all work is scheduled to be completed in 2006.

"Consultants Gauff Liebenberg & Stander were using CIVIL DESIGNER and AllyCAD, so we decided to use it as well. These are wonderful tools to work with. It is so much better than the software I was using in India. One of the packages we used in India was adopted by the World Bank, but AllyCAD and CIVIL DESIGNER provides much more flexibility." Coming from someone who grew up in the powerhouse of the software development world, this is high praise indeed.

What are the main differences between working in India and Botswana? "The hydrology is the same, it is universal. The parameters, equations and the science are all the same; only the local conditions are different."
  Does the scarcity of water in Botswana make a difference? "No, not at all. Lack of water is a global problem today. Someone has said that the next world war will be fought over water, not oil or anything else," he says earnestly. "It's a scary thought, unless we manage our resources well."

Another unit in the department has been tasked with providing education to users, teaching them how to look after their water. "They run awareness programmes, distribute pamphlets and run seminars and workshops. It has only been running for a couple of years, but they are achieving success."

Sanjiva's most challenging job was done in Central India. "Just after I started my working career, I worked on a project where we designed a bulk water supply for the city of Jhansi. The water source was 60km away, and we used a gravity line to transport 220 million litres per day. From the distribution point we had to pump it to the various consumers. The pipes were 1.2m concrete pipes."

"In 1999, I did another gravity scheme for a town called Noide near Delhi. That was 35km and only transported 110 million litres per day. So the schemes I am working with here in Botswana are small in comparison. But of course here we don't have hills or mountains, so the solutions are different."

The celebrated American poet Robert Frost spoke of risk when he said, "two roads diverge in a wood, and I took the one less travelled, and that has made all the difference." Sanjiva K. Sharma took a road seldom travelled, embracing the risk of coming to a strange land, working with, and living amongst, a new and different culture. Today, he is all the richer for the experience.

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