Representatives from the team pose with members of the Muchebe community on the August 2013 assessment trip.
The EWB-PU Kenya Program began when Professor Mahiri Mwita of the Princeton University African Studies department, approached EWB-PU with an idea for a project in Kuria district of Kenya. Our program received official approval by Engineers Without Borders in September 2013 and we are currently partnered with the communities of Muchebe and Komosoko on developing sustainable engineering programs that help address their lack of potable, drinking water.
Representatives of the team pose with the Muchebe Primary School Rainwater Catchment System and students from the school on the January 2015 assessment trip.
The communities of Komosoko of Muchebe are located in the Kuria District in Migori County of Kenya. Both villages have a population of about 2,000 people, and the majority of their residents are subsistence farmers. Unfortunately, the development of communities in Kuria West is impeded by the lack of access to basic necessities such as clean water, electricity, proper sanitation and housing. Both communities mainly rely on water from local rivers, which are located far from the villages and which EWB-PU testing has revealed to be contaminated with disease causing bacteria Our first project was a partnership with the Muchebe Primary School Management Committee, In 2014, the Muchebe community and Princeton team worked together to improve an existing rainwater catchment system at the school. They expanded the system’s storage capacity from 20,000 liters to 67,500 liters, utilizing the entirety of the Primary School’s roof to collect water. In August 2015, the community and team partnered again to implement a second, 60,000L rainwater catchment system on a nearby warehouse roof to increase access to water for the rest of the Muchebe community. Since the implementation of this project the team has continued to be in contact with the Muchebe community to monitor any concerns the community has about the systems.
Also in August 2015, the team initiated a new partnership with the village of Komosoko, which is located about thirty minutes away from Muchebe. Like the people of Muchebe, the people of Komosoko cited access to clean water as their primary need in household surveys and community meeting meetings conducted by EWB-PU. In particular, the Komosoko Primary School Management committee reached out to the team to form a partnership to build a rainwater catchment system on the roof of the Komosoko school. The team is very excited to work with the Komosoko school and will spend the 2015-2016 school year preparing a design for the rainwater catchment system. They plan to return to Kuria in August 2016 and assess for the next project.
Sustainability is a major concern for the EWB-PU team. Both our community partners and the team value the long-term success of every project. Thus, we work in accordance with EWB USA’s protocols to help ensure sustainability.
As per EWB USA’s requirement’s our partnership with Muchebe and Komosoko will be for a minimum of five years and will include monitoring the projects well after the project’s completion. This long-term collaboration will help ensure sustainability as EWB-PU and the community to form a more meaningful partnership and allow both parties to learn from each other to ensure best maintenance and repair practices for the system. The EWB-PU team prepares an operations and maintenance manual for the community with every project, but the community also comes up with more good practices for the repair, over the course of their maintenance, which the team is always interested to learn! Our partnership with Muchebe is the longer of the two and the community has consistently honored us with their commitment to our projects and their willingness to work with our team. By surveying the community on all of our assessment trips, and keeping in contact with community representatives throughout the year, we ensure that our projects are serving the needs of the community.
As per EWB policy, we encourage the community to take ownership of the projects implemented by our team in order to ensure future sustainability. Representatives of the school take data on the water quality and volume in the storage tanks of the rainwater catchment system. Additionally, the school maintenance committee and newly formed water management committee are responsible for sustaining the system, including regular maintenance. On our most recent assessment trip team members supervised the school maintenance committee as they improved the First Flush filtration system on the primary school’s rainwater catchment system. The community, particularly the chief and school administrators, are extremely supportive of our partnership. These factors lead us to believe that our projects will be sustainable far into the future.
EWB-PU Kenya Program Mission: This program hopes to provide the communities of Muchebe and Komosoko with a reliable water supply while educating the community on proper water treatment methods.