AAPG member Tako Koning spends about half of his time as an adviser for Tullow Oil Angola. The other half is devoted to helping the people of Angola in their struggle against malaria and the need for clean drinking water.
It’s not an easy battle. Despite the success that Angola has had as a major oil producer, many parts of the country still face destructive conditions brought on by malaria-carrying mosquitos and a lack of clean drinkable water.
But Koning is no stranger to helping others. Being involved with people on a humanitarian level beyond his duties as a geologist has long been a part of his life. Earlier efforts to help centered on satisfying people’s thirst for knowledge. As residential development manager for ChevronTexaco in Luanda, Angola, Koning organized an effort in 1997 to collect geology and petroleum-related books and journals to donate to African universities.
That effort stemmed from his experience lecturing on petroleum geology and economics at nearby universities, where he quickly noticed that libraries were severely lacking in books.
Acting on his own, Koning decided to collect a few used books and journals from local Canadian geologists in Calgary (his base at the time) to take with him back to Africa.
“A few books” unexpectedly became a garage-full of books, and then a warehouse full of books, and finally a huge operation that provided tons of information for the African universities. His efforts also led to the creation of the AAPG Publication Pipeline effort, which continued his mission of providing used books and journals to international areas.
Today, his concern for others tackles more basic human needs: water and survival.
That has led to his involvement with two groups that are trying to make a difference in Angola – a role that Koning plays well.
Yme, a non-profit organization (www.yme.no), is a collection of geologists, civil engineers, architects, health workers and social anthropologists who want to help the poor through what the organization calls “the responsible use of science and technology.”
To do that, Yme is involved in the drilling of water wells in remote and parched areas of Angola. Specifically, Yme’s focus has been on its water and sanitation projects in the provinces of Cabinda and Uige.
All of the Yme workers are Angolan except Koning.
The company, which has a small office in the capital city of Luanda, says that it hopes to continue in Angola as a small but active humanitarian organization helping the Angolan people improve their lives after 30 years of civil war.
Mosquito Net Project
As writer Michael Specter wrote in the New Yorker Magazine, “If you put plain old bed nets around, and do it properly and spray them with insecticide, you can get rid of half the malaria deaths in Africa – and that’s at least a million a year.”
Angola’s Mosquito Net Project was founded by a Norwegian social worker, Toril Ostvedt, after discovering a lack of mosquito nets in people’s home. Since 2001, the volunteer project has raised almost $100,000, which is the equivalent of 12,000 nets (protection for almost 40,000 people).
Money is raised both inside Angola and through international and corporate fundraising. All nets are locally made and donated, with the cost of a net per family being $8.