East Moline water chemist hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro for safe access to H2O in Africa

Local News

Brianna Huber has two passions: quality water and opportunities for women.

That has her heading up more than 19,000 feet about sea level to Africa’s tallest point to bring awareness to both issues.

Every day, Brianna spends time working with water.

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and chemist Brianna Huber said, “We’re doing bacterial testing of our distribution system.”

A chemist for East Moline’s Water Department, there’s one main thing she’s focused on.

Huber said, “We do such a good job that people don’t even have to think twice about their water.”

She’s testing to determine how to best treat the H2O.

“This is what we like to see,” Huber said, holding up one of the testing plates with no bacterial growths. “This is what our treatment processes here at the local water filtration plants are actually doing to remove bacteria and chemicals.”

As Brianna works to make sure there’s clean and safe drinking water for those that live in East Moline, she knows that can be said for everyone around the globe.

Huber said, “In third world countries or less developed countries who do not have access to water treatment like we do, this is what they’re ingesting is this.”
She showed a plate where the petri dish had bacterial growths cover the service.

That’s why Brianna is raising funds to support the Tanzanian Gender Networking Program.

Huber said, “They’re doing a fantastic job of bringing water and sanitation services to Tanzanians.”

The Program’s work address more than health concerns.

Huber said, “12.1 percent of Tanzanians die from water-related illnesses every year.”

TGNP also has the mission to improve the quality of life for women and their families across remote villages in Tanzania.

“The women are the people who are going to fetch water, right, so they’re walking like three to six miles a day with a 40-gallon jug of water on their head or their backs or however they choose to carry it,” said Huber.

Time that could be used to help enrich these communities.

Huber said, “Women generally are not able to work, and children are generally not able to attend school.”

Brianna didn’t just want to raise money for the group, which includes empowering and investing women in the villages as part of the solution.

Huber said, “Challenging them to come up with their own solutions and it’s really locally based and locally maintained.”

But challenge herself too, deciding to climb more than 19,000 feet above sea level in Tanzania to help with awareness.

Huber said, “What can I do that’s going to challenge myself in their environment to do the same kind of work they’re doing every day.”

She added, “That certainly would raise awareness, so I decided I’m going hike Mt. Kilimanjaro and it’s not exactly the same but I’ll be hiking with 20 to 30 pounds on my back for eight days straight in conditions similar to what they would be going to fetch water from.”

These steps up Mount Kilimanjaro, her way to fight for this basic resource of life.

She will start the hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro starting Sept. 1.

After the hike, she will meet with some of the people working with TGNP as part of a research program for a second master’s degree examining the role of women in the water industry.

Brianna said it’s an under-studied topic. While in the developing world, women are heavily involved in water resources, Brianna told Local 4 News it’s the opposite in the U.S.
Only a small number of women work in water processing and treatment.

People can donate on Brianna’s page. She has a goal of raising $5,000.

All of the money raised will support TGNP.

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