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In Kenya there is the proverb, “Maji ni uhai.” Translated to English, it means, “Water is life”. This value on water permeates every aspect of their culture. Clean water affects not only their general well-being but their entire livelihood. Most mornings, the young girls and women of the community must walk over ten miles to collect water for a single day. This search for water exposes schoolgirls to rape cases; encourages school dropouts and early marriages; and increases contact with HIV, AIDS, and other diseases.
Engineers Without Borders ASU’s vision is a world in which the communities we serve have the capacity to meet their basic human needs and our members have enriched global perspectives. By intimately connecting implementation, design, and education, we aim to remedy this severe water shortage through the installation of rain water catchment facilities and the rehabilitation of a local surface dam. In the spring of 2011, a handful of our members performed an assessment trip to the community. Over the past summer, we blue-printed sustainable and fiscally feasible designs and those designs have been approved by professional engineers.
Even though other organizations have previously implemented similar projects, more than 50% of these fail within five years. What makes our project unique is our emphasis on community involvement and education.
We will be training the community members to install and maintain the water technology. This will be done through encouraging the community to participate in construction and provide hands-on training for maintaining the system. In addition, we will be training engineering students from the local technical college in surface dam design. Not only that, but our designs are accessible enough that the community can undertake similar projects on their own in the future. They have the tools available to them; all they need is the catalyst of education.
The rainwater catchment system will be located in and owned by the Bondo Teacher’s Training College. We have appointed the head of the college to make all decisions concerning the system, tank, and water collected. The dams being renovated are entrusted to the community’s Water Department, including operation and maintenance of the dam post-implementation. The individuals in this department are appointed by fellow community members.