Lisa Smith

Floating But Not Adrift: Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic Model

For many, Lake Tanganyika is the most recognizable body of water on Earth – holding 20 percent of the planet’s fresh water. But for Dr. Amy Lehman, founder of the Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic, the lake represents much more.

With such a large portion of the world’s fresh water, Lake Tanganyika will most certainly increase in significance, as concerns for water security grow. Additionally, the lake serves as an important ecosystem of biodiversity, home to a large variety of unique plant and animal species. Bordering Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Zambia, the lake also defies norms and borders as it unites a community of people potentially more alike in their past and present customs than with others on the opposite end of their country. And, Dr. Lehman builds on this populations’ unity through the floating clinic’s outreach.

Already embedded in this community, Dr. Lehman directs her organization within the Lake Tanganyika basin, defying traditional methods for providing development assistance. The Lake Tanganyika Floating Clinic collaborates with local communities in each bordering country. For instance, the organization unites populations through the provision of health services, providing training or assistance in combined spaces to both Congolese and Tanzanians. While the primary intended consequence might be to provide the training/assistance, a secondary, equally as intentional consequence for Dr. Lehman is to connect people through shared experience, an outcome that may seem like common sense, yet is often neglected in our list of priority measures for impact.

But outside of the uniqueness of the Lake Tanganyika basin and the floating clinic’s approach to providing health services, Dr. Lehman tells a story all her own that continues to inspire and evoke similar passion for this important geographic region. In the embedded video below, Dr. Lehman describes in further detail her innovative solution for increasing healthcare access to these hard to reach communities as well as her next steps to build the boat!

Health Care
William Davidson Institute