Hope Herron

Location: Lusaka, Zambia

I started with Tetra Tech right out of grad school and, unlike many my age that constantly change jobs, I continue to build my career with the company. From the onset, I’ve been encouraged to think in unusual and creative ways by senior leadership and management. I've been able to collaborate with colleagues and pursue exciting opportunities worldwide. I believe that Tetra Tech fosters an environment that spurs the innovation needed to solve today's challenges. That is what excites me about this company.

Bringing Clean Water and Sanitation to Africa

Hope supports the project remotely from Tetra Tech’s office in Washington, D.C., and also recently spent more than three months in-country. Here she shares her experience of a day collecting survey and asset information in Lusaka to ensure construction will not negatively affect crops, houses, or shops in the construction zone.


Tetra Tech is working with the Zambian government on a U.S. government-funded project to provide water, sanitation, and drainage in the capital city of Lusaka. Implementing a project in sub-Saharan Africa requires a strong team of in-country staff who understand local concerns and conditions, the right Tetra Tech personnel and equipment to complement the local office, and continual communication between home and in-country offices.

I support the project remotely from Washington, D.C., and travel to Zambia periodically. My 22-hour journey to Lusaka includes a stop for fuel in Dakar, Senegal, and a plane change in Johannesburg, South Africa. Coming in and out of an ongoing project means quickly getting up to speed and jumping in wherever necessary.

I manage field activities and staff. The areas where we work do not have water or sanitation, so the biggest hurdle is making sure our field team is taken care of every day! This generally means identifying one of the nicer pit latrines owned by an amicable community member and handing out toilet paper and hand sanitizer, along with lots and lots of bottled water.

We face daily operational challenges—lack of reliable internet access, power, and standard office supplies (like manila folders). Even keeping vehicles working requires daily attention because of poor road conditions.

A Day in the Field: Collecting Survey and Asset Information from Residents in the Construction Zone

Name:
Hope Herron
Position:
Environmental Scientist
Field Work Location:
Lusaka, Zambia
Task:
Managing field operations for the resettlement component of a project to provide water, sanitation, and drainage to Lusaka
Office:
A concrete block and electric wire fence, manned 24 hours a day, protects our downtown Lusaka office. Iron grates and bars protect all windows and doors, as well as internal access to the primary offices. But it may be the only Tetra Tech office with an outdoor pool and roof deck!
Weather:
Dry, dusty, and sunny, with winter temperatures between 70–80 degrees Fahrenheit
7:30
Unlock office, gather field team equipment (cameras, GPS, measuring tape, maps, pens, field forms, walkie-talkies, kwacha to purchase fuel, first aid kit)
8:00
Brief team on the day’s project plan, check vehicles (fuel, oil, no flat tires)
8:30
Head to project site, make sure the field team grabs a snack
9:00
Use impact maps to identify affected residents for interviews and data collection
Collect and document information on potentially impacted assets
11:00
Check in with team leader and geographic information systems support team (ongoing as needed) 
12:00
Field teams eat lunch at small restaurants or vendors
15:15
Last call for data collection over walkie-talkie
15:45
Coordinate with field teams to head back to office 
16:15
Field teams file forms/maps, complete field sketches
17:00
Field teams leave
17:00-20:00
Review field forms, check email, discuss field issues with team leader, prepare for next
day’s activities
20:00
Dinner and home
20:30-?
Phone calls with home office or for other projects
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