A six-man expedition, including Hardy Wiedemann '75, will leave in early January for the African country of Mali to introduce new water conservation technology.
Hans Guggenheim, professor of Architecture at MIT, Wiedemann and four MIT graduate students will convert granaries of the drought-stricken Dogon tribe into water storage tanks.
"The drought has been going on four years now and it is literally wiping out some of these tribes," Wiedemann said last night. "The tanks we build should help them collect what little rainfall they get."
Guggenheim, who has studied the Dogon for over ten years, secured funds from several foundations to finance the mission. The Wunderman Art Foundation agreed to sponsor three Harvard students. whom Guggenheim and Everett I. Mendelsohn, professor of the History of Science, selected this fall.
Two Students Excluded
The mission was originally to include ten students. The Mali government decided to grant only five student visas, fearing the impact of a larger number on the Dogon. Guggenheim was forced to eliminate two other Harvard students John Newmark '74 and Marlene Price '74.
"We've been working on our plans since October," Wiedemann said. "We built a model of a granary and then tried our modifications. It worked pretty well."
Weidemann said the team has also studied cultural problems they may encounter. "I understand these granaries have some religious significance. Guggenheim knows the chief well, and he has given us permission, but I imagine there'll be some kind of hassle," he said.