EWB-PU partnered with the villages of Muchebe and Komosoko in August 2013 and August 2015 respectively. Our program aims to address the basic needs of the communities.
Benefits to the Kuria West Community
Community Background & Needs:
The communities of Muchebe and Komosoko are located in the Kuria District in Migori County of Kenya. Both have a population of 2,000, and the majority of its residents are subsistence farmers. Unfortunately, people in both villages lack of access to basic necessities such as clean water, electricity, proper sanitation and housing. In community meetings and household surveys, the communities have consistently cited access to reliable, potable water as their greatest concern Women and children must spend hours every day collecting water which is typically contaminated and causes recurring health problems.
First Project: Muchebe Primary Rainwater Catchment System
The first project was a product of a partnership between the Muchebe Primary School Management Committee and the Princeton Engineers Without Borders Kenya team. Muchebe Primary School already had one small rainwater catchment system, but it was not enough to supply water to the school’s 600 students year round. In August 2014, the community and the team partnered to greatly expand the rainwater catchment system to store 60,000L of water. Teachers report students now miss less time for class, and report fewer headaches, most likely because the access to clean water reduced dehydration The maintenance committee continues to make improvements on the system, adding an additional first flush filter to the system. Monitoring of the project is ongoing.
Second Project: Muchebe Community Rainwater Catchment System
In fall of 2014, the team received a letter from the Muchebe committee expressing interest in a building a second rainwater catchment system on the roof of a warehouse near the primary school. The Muchebe Primary School’s catchment system was intended primarily for the students, and the community was interested in a second catchment system specifically to meet the water needs of other community members, who continued to lack access to water. In January 2015, the team returned to Muchebe to monitor the success of the first catchment system and assess for the next one. In August 2015, the community and team partnered to build a 60,000L catchment system on the local warehouse roof, increasing access to water for everyone in the community, not just students. Monitoring is ongoing.
Third (and Current) Project: Komosoko Primary Rainwater Catchment System
In August 2015, the Princeton team began to look for another community that would be interested in partnering with us. They visited seven communities, but the community members of Komosoko exceptional in their enthusiasm, motivation and strong sense of community. The Komosoko Primary School Management Committee expressed interest in a rainwater catchment system on their school and the Committee and Princeton Engineers Without Borders signed a Memorandum of Understanding to partner to build a rainwater catchment system on the roof of Komosoko Primary, which currently has limited access to water. Design is ongoing.
Benefits to Princeton Students:
From this program Princeton students are learning the complexity of international development and how to make a project sustainable. Some of the skills that our team is learning include:
- Leadership: Our team is led by two international project managers and a twelve-person leadership committee that oversees the technical, community and long-term development teams. Our leaders are constantly challenged to come up with new initiatives and find ways to engage team members as part of developing a sustainable program.
- Project Design: Designing the system we are going to implement allows the engineers to apply theoretical concepts presented in classrooms into practice. In addition, it gives them a hands on opportunity learn how to design a project under the mentorship of our professional mentors and Princeton graduate students. Students are further forced to consider how to balance between quality, cost and sustainability.
- Global Citizen: The EWB-PU Kenya team strives to develop a trusting relationship with our community partners. Our active consideration of how we can better integrate engineering systems to serving the needs of the community helps prepare us to be global citizens of the world.
- Finance:Our finance team has been actively involved in raising funds from University departments, grants and corporate sponsorships for our annual budget of around $40,000-$50,000 per year. These are skills that are applicable throughout life and we are all having the opportunity to work together and learn how to create accurate but comprehensive budgets.
- Writing Surveys: For our assessment trip we are writing surveys to gather baseline data on the community, including their use of the water, their treatment of the water, how often they get sick. However, to collect accurate data we must learn to write comprehensive surveys. Thus, we are applying what we are learning in our statistics to help write good surveys.