In 2014, Well Aware was first introduced to the Kiliku Primary School, serving 400 students in Makueni, Kenya
At that time, students had to collect and bring their own water from home, sometimes walking up to 2.5 km (~1.5 miles) to a river to fetch dirty water. This unsafe water made many of the students sick, sometimes forcing them to miss school.
This is where our partnership comes in — Kiliku Primary requested Well Aware’s help finding a sustainable source of clean water. After meeting with the community and reviewing the available water options, we learned the school enjoys reliable annual rainy seasons in the winter months. With this knowledge and after researching all viable options, our team of technical experts designed and built a rainwater catchment and purification system that could provide for the students for many years to come.
Over 6 years later, the 400 students continue to enjoy purified rainwater — no longer facing the hardships of walking hours to fetch dirty water outside of their community. The school’s water was so plentiful that neighboring communities also benefited, with many individuals bringing several jerry cans to the school to fill with fresh water.
Now, Kiliku faces the new struggles of a global pandemic. 2020 was a tough year but the Kiliku Primary School helped to ensure the health and safety of its students by installing new handwashing stations complete with soap and clean water provided by the rainwater catchment system.
To further help the school combat COVID-19, Well Aware deployed a mobile WASH App, in partnership with Well Beyond, in mid-2020 — providing the teachers and students with vital information on the virus and necessary preventative measures to avoid major infection.
Peters, a teacher at the school, told Well Aware: “The app is good. [It] has new and practical information. For example, we have learned to supplement soap with ash; ensuring proper handwashing is not interrupted even when we run out of soap.”
However, the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic was not the only hardship 2020 would bring for Kiliku. The once reliable rainy season was replaced by an unprecedented drought, and the school rapidly ran out of water, forcing the students and teachers to resume their old habit of ferrying unsafe water from home. Now, without access to reliable clean water, the school rarely cooks for its students, and can only provide food when they can afford to buy water from the market vendors.
According to Mrs. Kyalo, a teacher at the school, “having water in the school compound was a great relief. We cooked and drank to our fill. Watching kids go back to the old ways of bringing water from home is saddening.” Additionally, the roof where the water is collected has started to rust, further endangering the already-small quantity of water collected.
All is not gloom, however. Well Aware is actively working with the school to solve this new water challenge. When the problem first arose, the community’s water committee reached out to Well Aware, and the issue was immediately put in front of our technical team for mitigation.
Earlier this month, in January 2021, a site visit and review of the system was completed to bring further recommendations back to the team. After review, it was determined that the school has the capacity and need for an additional two water storage tanks. This solution will allow the water captured from the rainfall to last longer and get the school through the more frequent dry periods.
Both pupils and teachers are now looking forward to replenishing their tanks and going back to normal life with plentiful clean water. Well Aware is committed to the long-term success of Kiliku Primary, as we are all of our partner communities, and we look forward to seeing how they will continue to thrive with this lasting water project.