ACE2Zambia – Weeks 5 & 6: The Finale

As our time in Zambia comes to an end we look back on our final two weeks on site. Through the trials and tribulations of the project, the highs and the lows, we were happy to have completed the court on time for a spectacular opening. Here’s what happened in the last two weeks of ACE2Zambia 2022.

The ACE2Zambia team at the opening with a class of civil engineering students from UNZA.

Week 5 – Plenty of work to do…

As week 5 started we were nervous and knew there was plenty of work to do. The extensive groundworks undertaken early in the project meant that the time left for laying stone, compacting the stone layers, and applying the bitumen was rapidly running out.

Due to the issues in week 4 with the compactor the laying of the stonebase had been delayed. Early in week 5 the rest of the stonebase was layed and compacted to a level we were happy with and we felt as though a major hurdle had been reached.

Another snag was immediately hit however when the concrete sub-contractor, whom we had not seen for days, appeared and let us know that he’d lost his phone… By this point the concrete works were well behind schedule and we were becoming increasingly frustrated. This, coupled with the poor quality of work in some areas necessitated a change in sub-contractor and near the end of the week we had a much more experienced team on site.

They started to work on finishing the shoulder of the court and constructing the spoon drain. It was good to get this major element of the court started before the A2Z team departed for the weekend.

Livingstone Weekend

One of the absolute standout memories from our time in Zambia is the Livingstone weekend. Although the 10 hour bus from Lusaka to Livingstone is an experience in itself, the weekend is one we will never forget.

White water rafting down the Zambezi

Starting on the Friday with a sunset cruise down the Zambezi and continuing in to Saturday with white water rafting, we thoroughly enjoyed our time away from site and the break it afforded. On Sunday we made the short hop over the border to botswana where we experienced a water safari in the morning and a game drive in the afternoon – safe to say seeing Lions up close and personal was a sharp departure from life on site!

The opportunity to take a break from the project and catch up with the sports students, many of whom had barely seen us in recent weeks due to our time spent on site, was a welcome change of pace. We had an incredible time and only wish we could have stayed longer. Alas, week 6 and the end of the project was calling…

Week 6 – The Final Countdown

Getting back to site bright and early on Tuesday morning of week 6 after our weekend away was a shock to the system. The progress had not been as swift as we had hoped in our absence and there was plenty left to do. The upper layer of stonebase still required compaction and two layers of bitumen needed laying. In addition to this, the seating had not been started and we would have to paint the lines on to the court before the opening, meaning the bitumen had to be layed at least the day before to give it time to dry.

Tuesday

The site that greeted us on Tuesday presented us with an array of issues. We calculated that we just about had enough time to finish the court before the opening as long as there were no more delays. From our project experience this was unlikley so we knew that we would have to drive hard to ensure a timely completion.

We shared our concerns with the contractor and presented our ideal schedule of works, then we got to work. The first order of business was to compact the stonebase layer which was done by mid-afternoon. We also tasked the concrete contractors to finish the drainage to ensure that they could move on to the seating as soon as possible.

Good progress was made on Tuesday but we knew we still had a mountain to climb to finish on time.

Wednesday

Wednesday saw the first layer of bitumen go on to the court and a start to the construction of the seating area. We still had concerns about the quality of the concrete in some areas but at this point we had to deploy the concrete contractors solely on the seating to ensure at least the supports were constructed by Friday. This was a frustrating slow day on site and we knew that Thursday would be make or break.

Also started on Thursday was our painted mural that Sport In Action had commissioned from a local artist. We layed out the template and supplied the logos of our partners and sponsors and he got to work in record time. While progress on the court was at times slow, the mural came together at a lightnig pace.

Thursday

Thursday rolled around and we were on site at the crack of dawn. With a layer of bitumen to add, seating to construct, and lines to paint; we settled in for a long, long day.

The day started slowly with work not really commencing until 10am, but once work started it didn’t stop. By midday the site was a hive of activity. At one point there was mural painting, bitumen laying, concrete works, band practice, a football game, emergency car repairs, and discussions with the contractor all going on at once.

It was a frantic day but good progess was made. The bitumen layer was added and compacted which meant we could start painting the lines – cutting it fine, we know!

When we left the site at nearly 7pm the line painting was not finished and we agreed with the contractor that it would be finished before the ceremony at 10am. Not an ideal solution, but we were working with what we had.

Friday

The final day. After 6 weeks of hard work, long hours, and at times literal blood, sweat, and tears we had made it. But when we arrived on site at 8am celebrations were far from our mind. The line painting was hours behind schedule and there were only two operatives with a paintbrush who needed to paint over 60m of lines. We made an executive decision to dash out to a local dealer and buy as many paintbrushes as we could.

Luckily a number of the A2Z team were accomplished artists (shoutout to Alice, Cat and Emelia) and so had no problem pitching in with the painting. As guests started to arrive for the 10am ceremony we were starting to feel the pressure. The lines were finally finished just 20 minutes before the official opening was due to start and, after a quick drink and a dust off, we took our seats as guests at the official opening.

The final touches being made to the court lines being made by the A2Z team

The opening ceremony itself was a long and lively affair with a band, two productions from a local drama group, speeches from the great and good of Matero, and some excellent MC’ing from Chitanda PE teacher Mr Sam.

It was lovely to see what the opening of the court meant to the community and it was a great day for the whole team. After many pictures, hand shakes, and congratulations, we met with the headteacher of Chitanda combined school one last time before taking our last Yango from Matero back to the house in Ibex Hill.

The completed court

Reflections

As we write this reflection on the last two weeks it is Saturday of week 6, and we are about to wave goodbye to Zambia tomorrow. It has been a rollercoaster ride for the whole A2Z team and we will update this blog with our reflections in more detail when we have time to process our experience.

For now, all we will say is thank you to Sport In Action, JP & Mia, the staff and students that made the house a home, Chitanda combined school, and the people of Matero. We may have left Matero with a netball court, but Matero has left an indelible mark on us all. ACE2Zambia 2022.

ACE2Zambia – Week 4: Crunch Time

With our time in Zambia over half complete and much work still to do, week 4 was crunch time for the ACE2Zambia team. Week 3 saw the kerb stones placed and the ground in the court area levelled. Still to come was the concrete work for the shoulders and drains, stonebase and bitumen, as well as other elements such as the seating, landscaping, and protective barrier.


But it wasn’t all work and no play! From fun on site and group meals in the evenings, to a weekend birthday bash for Stewie (the VolunteerZambia media rep); the Bath team had a great week.

Sports day in the VolunteerZambia house

Progress on site

Week 3 ended with the court area levelled with good quality won spoil and the kerb stones placed. It was definitely nice to make some progress and get the area looking like a real court! The week had a frustrating end however with the compactor breaking down at the end of the week, leaving half the area uncompacted.

In order to save time it was agreed with the contractor that the stonebase should be placed across the whole court area and the whole thickness of material would be comacted in one go. Given the thin layer of stonebase being used this was deemed acceptable and it saved a whole day of work.

Stonebase piled up on the court ready for spreading

With work inside the court area progressing it was time to turn our attention to the outside of the court. Along the perimeter of the court a concrete shoulder around 50mm thick was cast in place and a spoon drain is planned for three sides to divert water flow off the playing area.
This concrete work proved more difficult than expected with a number of hiccups along the way.

Although we had aimed to have the shoulder completed by the end of the week, when Friday came around there was still around 20% of the perimeter left unfinished. After a conversation with the contractor the concrete technicians were changed and some busy days in week 4 were planned!

The issues with the concrete works did provide an opportunity for the A2Z team to pitch in on site and get their hands dirty, applying knowledge from UK construction sites to the court at Matero. The idea to pierce a bottle top and use it to keep the surface of the concrete moist, improving the finish is one experienced site engineers will recognise as an old favourite.

By the end of the week it was clear that progress had been made and the teachers at Matero were delighted to see the court taking shape. Although progress was slower than hoped we knew that we still had time, but that week 4 would be busy!

Fabrication and site visits

Outside of the main court construction the A2Z team are also conducting site visits to all Sport-In-Action sites to put together and asset register and condition survey. We hope that future A2Z teams find our updates useful for their projects and that this document serves SIA well in the future. Additionally, a side project to organise the fabrication of a series of netball posts to SIA hub sites and the writing of a netball post fabrication guide are progressing well.

Visiting sites all over Lusaka has been a nice break from site life (and from the 60 minute journey every morning!) and seeing the different communities that benefit from the work SIA, and by extension the VolunteerZambia team, does is incredibly fulfilling. Knowing that the work we do is part of a much larger effort with an established infrastructure and positive strategic vision is huge for our enthusiasm for the project.

Looking to Week 5

Week 5 will undoubtedly be make or break for the A2Z team. With a tight schedule and lots to do it will be all hands on deck to get everything done in time to hand over to the school and Sport-In-Action.

ACE2Zambia – Half Way There…

The end of week 3 sees the ACE2Zambia 2022 team half way through their Zambian adventure. From crunch time on site, some heated discussions, the kerbs being laid, and scorching temperatures reached, to British night, a trip to the local agricultural show, and half a dozen site visits, it’s been a busy week!

The week on site

The wekek got off to a rough start with a disagreement with the contractor on the level of the court. With the corner kerbstones layed at what we felt was too great an elevation difference, we had a decision to make. Either use the high-quality won spoil from the excavations to raise the ground in the lower areas and bring some of the corner kerbs up, or excavate the highest corners to bring them down and level the court. We favoured the raising option as it allowed closer control of the level across the court, rather tham bringing in an excavator and having to re-grade the area. After a long and heated discussion with the contractor, we agreed that this was the best course of action. A frustrating waste of a few hours on site while we decided what to do but once the decision was made it was all systems go.

It was slightly frustrating to have to watch the labourers fill in the trench that they had so laboriously dug, but as we have found out here things rarely go completelty smoothly. As the week progressed the kerb stones were layed around the whole court and excavations for the drainage was started.

The precast concrete kerb stones being placed.

With the whole court perimeter of kerb stones placed by the end of the week the team were pleased with progress. The material for the stonebase was delivered mid-week and the contractor had arranged for the compactor to return.

The next steps are to ensure the gravel build up is level and compact, lay and compact the stonebase, then roll the ashphalt and paint the court lines. As we are half way through our trip and roughly half way through construction, we are feeling confident but know that there is plenty of work to be done.

We are looking forward to week 4 where we hope to make some strong progress towards completing the court.

Among the many other things that happended on site this week, the team were interviewed by Zambian TV along with Frank from SIA. We look forward to seeing our debuts on PrimeTV at some point!

The Other Side of VolunteerZambia

The VolunteerZambia foundation is the umbrella charity through which ACE2Zambia and the other Wallace Group students volunteer and it is with this big group that we live and socialise. As a group of we have explored Lusaka and will soon be travelling to Livingstone for a weekend away.

This weekend was British night where the house cooked British food for the Zambian SIA volunteers and hub site staff. The evening was a great success and a nice way to return the favour of Zambian night – where we were treated to a feast of Zambian food.

This weekend also saw the Lionesses victorious over Germany in the Euros final and the whole VolunteerZambia group watched the game at a local pub. It was a surreal experience to be 5000 miles from Wembley but to feel the passion for the beautiful game all the same.

By a stroke of luck the day after the final was Monday 1st August and is a national holiday in Zambia (national farmer’s day) and so the house had a lie in and a relaxed day. With some going to a local pool, the rest of us headed to Matebeto to try the best street food in Zambia. If you ever find yourself in Lusaka then it’s an absolute must!

ACE2Zambia on Site

The ACE2Zambia team are on site and work has commenced on the netball court at Chitanda Combined School. Week 2 started with the team on site and groundwork commencing.

The A2Z team with the contractor on site and ready to start groundworks

Groundworks

The first step was to level the ground. An initial site walkover revealed much more uneven ground than we expected, a loose drain pipe from an adjacent property, and plenty of rubbish (organic and non-organic) strewn across the site.

Nevertheless, the A2Z team was ready to get started and after a brief wait for the excavator, we were breaking ground. We were pleased with the excavator that turned up and after explaining what was needed to the driver we had broken ground.

Breaking Ground… The start of the project

After just a few hours the topsoil had been stripped right across the site area and good progress was being made. By a stroke of luck, the existing ground that was found underlying the court area was strong and firm, boding well for the longevity of the court. The existing ground excavated from this area will come in useful for filling and levelling the area.

Levelling the ground

In order to build up a sports court the ground, you start from should be firm, stable, and reasonably level. Given the undulation of the site that we started with this was no mean feat. The excavator had made a start on the ground levelling and it was down to a grader to finish the job.

The grader at work levelling the ground

After much discussion, the site was re-levelled as the thickness of the gravel layer was hugely varied across the site. This caused a slight delay but was worth it to provide a reasonably uniform surface across the site area.

The trenches for the kerb stones that will delineate the border of the site were started this week too and we look forward to this stage of the work.

Looking to next week

With the ground level, and even resembling a court, the plan for next week is to get the kerbs laid and start to fill the court area with the stone base. This will mark a milestone in the completion of the court

ACE2Zambia 2022 – The first few days

The ACE2Zambia team landed in Lusaka on Friday 8th July and we have spent the first few days settling in to the house, exploring the city, and getting our first look at the Sport In Action (SIA) hub sites.

Landing in Lusaka

The ACE2Zambia 2022 team on arrival in Lusaka

The new terminal at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka made entering the country a breeze. After a short wait at the immigration gates our passports and visas were stamped and we were through to meet our SIA colleagues and University of Bath liaison. Visas can be applied for online in advance (highly recommended!) or bought at the airport.

After packing our bags on to the SIA bus we headed straight to Munali to see our first hub site. SIA works on a hub site model with locations across Lusaka and the rest of Zambia. These sites are set up to provide local children a safe space to play and develop life skills. The sites are administered by local volunteers passionate about their community under the guidance of the SIA Zambia Project Manager.

Straight from the airport we headed to one of the hub sites, Munali, which was a great introduction to the trip as it was a previous ACE2Zambia project. The court still looked to be in good condition and the kids seemed to love it. We toured the area, watching football and basketball as well as viewing the changing rooms and meeting the hub site coordinator. After that it was back on the bus to our home for the 6 week project.

Settling in to the house

The ACE2Zambia team were the first to move in to the SIA house, so we grabbed all the best beds…

Everyone volunteering on the project lives in the same house. There are roughly 20 sports students out in Zambia up-skilling the hub site coordinators and coaches and the A2Z team lives side by side in the house, along with the SIA Zambia Project Manager JP and the university staff volunteers.

The house is always full of fun and games and everything is done together. From impromptu games of rounders in the driveway to cooking dinner each evening, there is a real sense of community and that this really is home for the next 6 weeks.

After welcoming the rest of the students in the the house we spent the first few days exploring Lusaka and getting our bearings. One major event was getting our phones set up with a Zambian sim card and number (+260 for those that are wondering). It was a relief to find out that you can put a zambian sim in to pretty much any phone (regardless of whether you are on a contract or not) and even keep your UK WhatsApp number. This comes in handy for contacting family and friends and the data packages are surprisingly cheap. 25GB for K250 (or about £12.50) is an absolute bargain and the coverage is excellent. The initial process of buying a sim is a little time consuming (who knew you needed your passport to buy a sim card?) but after that it was plain sailing. With the weekend over it was time to get to work…

The real work begins

The ACE2Zambia team at the University of Zambia with our university contacts

The first stop was a tour of the University of Zambia (UNZA) with our University of Bath liaison and Joshua, Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNZA. After a tour of the campus and the labs we met up with Richie and Dorica, our two Zambian student partners, to talk about the project. We also learnt that UNZA is massively over-subscribed for civil engineering, with only 50 places for 1000 applicants… and we thought UCAS applications were bad!

After the tour we grabbed a bite to eat at a local university fast food place and talked about of motivations for studying engineering and our experiences of studying at university.

The next day we all jumped on the SIA bus to tour all of the SIA hub sites in Lusaka. It was eye-opening to see the range of sizes and conditions of the courts and facilities that were being used. We recieved warm welcomes everywhere we went and it was great to see the courts built by previous A2Z teams still in good condition and being used to their full extent. We took some pictures and started to put together an asset register to inform future A2Z teams on the need for construction and remediation at the various hub sites and made notes of easy interventions that we could make to improve the facilities. At Munali, for example, there was a basketball court with backboards that were damaged and with no hoops. Fabricating and installing replacements should be a straightforward and relatively cheap task to do and will effectively reopen an entire court.

We also spent some time at Chitanda Primary School where we have been asked to build the new netball court. The site was very different to what we had gathered from the pictures we had been sent and what we could see on Google Maps. The undulation of the ground in the court area was nearly 1m and there was drainage leaking in to the proposed court area among other issues. As our plan for the court arrangement was well developed at this point these points didn’t raise too much alarm, but future cohorts should be aware that delays and unforeseen circumstances are the norm out here and being adaptable and resilient is key.

This takes us to Tuesday evening where we are putting the finishing touches to our proposals for the netball court at Chitanda Primary School in Matero before meeting our contractor tomorrow on site. This will be the first time we have met the contractor and the first time the A2Z team, contractor, and SIA staff have all been in the same place at the same time.

Looking to the future

Our plan is to keep this blog updated throughout the project with at least one post per week. This is partly so that we can look back on our project and our sponsors and supporters can keep up with our progress throughout July and August 2022. But it is also so that future A2Z cohorts can get a feel for what the experience is like and what you need to be prepared for. We will try to record an honest account of the highs and lows of the project and include any helpful tips along the way.

Stay tuned for our next post on the commencement of works!

2022 Introduction Weekend

ACE2Zambia is back and ready to begin designing the sports courts for this year’s project!

The team travelled up to Durham University last weekend to meet the other university students supporting Sport In Action this summer (pictured).

There are three groups travelling out, of which we will be joining the second one to begin construction of the new sports facility. We were briefed on the project’s location and procedures, and especially about life in Zambia itself. Overall, an inspiring weekend.

Job done in Lusaka

Our two courts were finished just in time for us to hold opening ceremonies at both before we left Lusaka, making for a great finish to an amazing six weeks.

Although the majority of the work at Fountain of Hope was completed a couple of weeks ago, the finishing touches took a little while longer. Over several days the ball catchers, bollards, lines and basketball posts were added or finished off. With the court so close to completion it was hard to keep the children off! The top coat of bitumen is also proving slow to set and is still soft in the afternoon sun, making it necessary to delay full match play for another week.

Opening Fountain of Hope

The netball and basketball teams were eager to play on their new court

The finished court at Fountain of Hope

At Kaunda Square the final work included finishing off the new drain, replacing the concrete apron for the outside tap, installing bollards and dressing the lower slope adjacent to the court with aggregate. Despite talking through the line painting plan with the contractor several times, they still added one too many lines! A last minute repair job with bitumen solved this in time for the opening.

The finished court at Kaunda Square

The construction team at Kaunda Square

We were delighted to open the courts in front of the children, teachers, netball and basketball coaches and directors of Sport in Action and the church at Kaunda Square. Jamie and Alexa got the lucky jobs of cutting the ribbons and officially handing the courts over to their new owners. It was humbling to hear the directors speak about how the courts will benefit the local communities and it brought us back to the reasons for being here in the first place.

Over the last six weeks we have discussed the appropriateness of being here and spending money on a recreational facility when adjacent to it are unhygienic toilets and dysfunctional taps. Many of the local children come from poor families, some of whom may eat only one meal a day. Unemployment is high and we were asked several times for help finding jobs or ways into the UK. HIV and alcoholism are also common.

While it may therefore seem naive and misplaced to spend our £17,000 on courts instead of measures to tackle these severe social problems, those problems are exactly why courts are needed. Such facilities provide a place for children to play, exercise, develop a skill, make friends and, most importantly, stay off the streets and away from drugs, alcohol and crime. Some children may, and already have been inspired to become professional athletes or take up leading and coaching in their communities because of the opportunities offered by Sport in Action.

We believe this year’s project has been successful in creating more assets for Sport In Action to continue their great work. We hope this will lead to expansion and development of the project from all parties involved in the years to come and we are already working on ways to improve the project’s sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness.

Thanks to our donors for making the project possible and to all those who have helped along the way – we are incredibly grateful.

Update from Kaunda – drainage and water supply

Drainage and water supply has been the focus of our attention at Kaunda Square this week as the court nears completion with exactly one week until the Bath team leaves Lusaka.

The asphalt has been laid and is currently being compacted. The concrete apron is complete and the major tasks remaining are the laying of a bitumen layer over the asphalt and painting of court lines.

Compacting the asphalt

Early on in the project we decided to add a drainage channel above and beside the court to direct rainwater away from the court and adjacent school building. This is part constructed but the discovery of a water pipe beneath the channel has slowed progress slightly.

The drainage channel runs on two sides of the court and is constructed from cast in situ concrete.

We decided to redirect the water pipe so that it runs adjacent to the drain, rather than under it. This will eliminate the chance of the pipe being damaged during construction of the drain and allow easier access to the pipe if it has to be repaired in the future. The pipe supplies the school with all of its water, so we have to do all we can to ensure a constant supply.

The tap will remain in place, but a new pipe will be laid further from the drain

We are keen to make the most of our last few working days in Lusaka, so we’re arranging visits to previous Bath construction sites with our contractors to obtain quotes for repair and maintenance work. Although it’s unlikely we will have time to carry out the work this year, the quotes will help the Wallace Group and Sport in Action to decide which sites to focus on next year.

Livingstone / Sustainability

After three weeks of hard work on the courts and on sports placements, the Volunteer Zambia house was ready for a well-earned break and all 20 of us headed to Livingstone for a long weekend. The town is on the borders of Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, but is also right next to the Victoria Falls, making for stunning scenery and endless activity options.

Sadly, the journey from Lusaka to Livingstone is not easy at the best of times, and a leaking fuel pipe on the bus turned it into a 12 hour slog, but spirits were quickly raised with a great dinner at Cafe Zambezi. The majority of the group headed out on safari the next morning in Botswana and were rewarded with elephants, giraffes, hippos and more… Others took a bike tour of the lesser-known areas of the city and saw its less prosperous side, which was a wake-up call to the inequality and deprivation still so present in Africa.

Sunset over the Victoria Falls

The highlight of the weekend for many was white water rafting on the Zambezi River. Local guides took us down 21 rapids with names like Commercial Suicide and The Washing Machine… Needles to say it was an incredible adrenaline rush!

We returned to our sites on Tuesday morning to find good progress had been made over the weekend. At Kaunda Square the excavation has been completed and stonebase laid, which is currently being compacted. The edge details are being finished off with backfill and a gap left in the kerb for machinery to enter the court has been filled.

Laying stone base at Kaunda. Also shown is the backfilled lower edge.

Kaunda Square

At Fountain of Hope the asphalt was laid over three days and a top layer of bitumen slurry added on Monday. This was all done by hand and compacted with a small vibratory roller. The concrete drain was also cast and the posts set in place to give a court which looks tantalisingly close to completion.

The finishing touches include painting the court lines and basketball posts, and installing new basketball backboards and hoops. We hope to be able to open the court with a ceremony before we leave Lusaka in just under two weeks.

Awaiting the final touches…

Assembling the ball catchers behind the nets

With our spare time we have been starting to develop ways of improving the sustainability of this project. Thus far, the Bath team has been asked to build a new court each year, sometimes ripping out an old one in the process (Fountain of Hope is a good example). This is an attractive approach because the courts are relatively cheap (the money can be raised by one group without too much trouble) and can be built within the six week placement. In the long run, however, this becomes expensive.

Using cheaper materials means the court structure doesn’t always last, so replacement becomes the only option. In any case, with no maintenance taking place, courts can deteriorate so far that repair becomes uneconomical. Of course, a balance has to be struck between cost, maintenance resources and lifespan.

To tackle this, we are considering if and how maintenance programmes might work considering Sport in Action has no in-house technical knowledge and rarely has funding for such work. When they do, it often gets spent on cosmetic improvements.

There’s a long way to go on this sustainability mission, but we can make a good start!

Courts are almost half complete!

Things have really taken off on the court construction front this week, with good progress having been made at Fountain of Hope and Kaunda Square, although it hasn’t been plain sailing… When not at site we’ve been enjoying local markets, football, netball and much more.

We have now split into two site teams, with Alexa and Jamie managing Kaunda Sq, and Tom and Nick managing Fountain of Hope. At Fountain the boundary kerb stones have been set in concrete and a stonebase laid, which will be compacted before asphalt is spread on top. The old basketball posts are being reused and new netball posts have arrived on site.

We have designed a ‘double kerb’ which is set deeper into the ground on the outer edge to prevent undercutting in the future, which has been an issue with other courts. The construction of this got underway yesterday along with a new drain at the edge of the court, which will carry water to the main drain in the road.

The deep outer kerb will prevent undercutting. A concrete ramp between the inner and outer kerbs will ensure easy access.

Concrete being poured for the outer kerb.

It’s been important to be at site this week to make sure the contractor does what was agreed – we have learnt the importance of exchanging dimensioned and annotated sketches the hard way! Fountain of Hope is an exciting place to be, however, with kids running around and asking us questions every day, so we’re never short of entertainment!

The construction of a new netball court at Kiine School, Kwanda Square is now into its second week. Significant progress has been made and the court is really starting to take shape!

Current state of the court at Kaunda… we are excavating to refill with stonebase.

Strip foundations have been cast in-situ followed by the placement of high quality kerb stones to protect the edge of the court. During our site investigation we discovered that the gradient of the ground was higher than expected, causing the design of our retaining edge to vary in different corners of the site. A retaining slope has been used to support the kerb stones but also to provide protection against erosion and undercutting of neighbouring soil.

Concrete was cast for the kerbs using formwork where it protruded above ground level.

Kerbstones ready to be placed.

We have decided to link the drainage system of the court with the adjacent building to reduce the number of channels running across the area between the school and court. Even though Zambia is consistently very hot and dry, large weather storms occur at specific times of the year. Storm drains are essential in urban areas to reduce the risk of flooding.

New drain adjacent to school.

Unfortunately, we have managed to encounter underground services twice during our short time at site. Luckily these were only small diameter water pipes. However, these services will need to be redirected because if the pipe were to burst in the future then the structural integrity of the court would be highly compromised.

Water pipe awaiting repair and re-direction…

Currently we are excavating the internal area of the court so it can be filled and compacted with the appropriate thicknesses of materials. We are hoping that by the end of this week the subgrade will be level and compacted, ready for the heavy stone base layer that is scheduled to arrive at the weekend.

As well as managing the construction projects, we are responsible for reporting on the condition of other existing facilities managed by Sport in Action. This week we visited three courts and a swimming pool, which varied hugely in condition. Although we can give technical advice to SIA and make recommendations for repairs, the management of these assets will only be sustainable in the long term if inspections can be carried out by local engineers, who can then oversee the work when a Bath team is not here.

This is why we want to build a good relationship with civil engineering students at the University of Zambia. Natasha and William, both in their final year at UNZA, have joined us once or twice a week on site. They are contributing ideas and technical knowledge, but also as locals they understand the contractors’ ways of working far better than us! We hope they will want to become more involved in the project and improve its sustainability.

Working with William and Natasha at Kaunda Sq last week.

Please follow our Instagram account to keep up-to-date on our day-to-day activities at both Kwanda Square and Fountain of Hope!