USAID Millennium Water Alliance helps a Kisumu community build and maintain a clean water system at the school
“Three years back, the school would spend 400 shillings per day (US $5) to buy water and absenteeism was high,” says John Masime the principal at Mariwa mixed secondary school in Kisumu. With great need for access to clean water and a commitment from the local leaders and the community at large, Millennium Water Alliance, with funding from USAID, set up a community water project at the Mariwa School.
The community calls it the Oriwore project, meaning together in the Luo language. Previously the community relied on rivers and streams for their water supply. Due to climate change, women and children were walking long distances in search of water. With no regular source of clean water, and the exposure to water borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery, children in the community would end up missing many days of school each term.
Now, the school gets clean water direct from the borehole which is then piped to the water tanks in various points within the school. The school currently has 235 students and is able to provide lunch for the school population. They now have kitchen gardens and fruit trees around their compound.
Members of the school’s health club ensure the school is clean at all times. In addition, the health club creates a culture of good hygiene among students both at school and at home. The students are able to concentrate on their studies without the interruption of skipping school to fetch water or queuing in long lines to use latrines. The school now has four sanitation facilities. The students can comfortably clean up after games or even early in the morning before class.
The entire community has access to the water project through a water kiosk at the school. “The people can access the kiosk without distracting school activities because we have set up a community gate where they can easily come and buy water,” explains Masime. The water committee, set up by the community, has formulated a cost effective way of allowing the project to sustain itself. Water is sold at 3 shillings for a 20 liter jerry-can. With this added income, the project has been able to install electricity which assists in pumping water. Now, the school itself has electricity in all classes increasing the study time for students.
The women of the community share in the joy of the project. They do not have to travel long distances to get water for their families. “We now have time to cook, clean and go to the farm. Before, looking for water would be a whole day affair because of the numerous trips,” claims one of the beneficiaries. The project has benefited 8600 people in the community.
by Natasha Murigu