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Case Studies

Rainwater Harvesting for Schools in Nandi County, Kenya

Water and sanitation are at the core of sustainable development. Safe drinking water is a pillar of human health and well-being.  With children spending 80% of their active time in school, the interdependence of water and education is not to be underestimated.

Nandi County, Kenya benefits from regular rainfall, throughout the year. Despite this, the region still battles with water shortages, and some of the most effected institutions in the region are schools.

The majority of schools in Nandi County do not have a steady supply of clean water. Children often carry a five liter jerrican of water to school after lunch, to clean classrooms and meet other needs requiring fresh water at school.

As a result, the majority of children miss afternoon lessons and the chance of injury is greatly increased as water often comes from springs and rivers. Going back and forth to collect water requires a lot of time and energy, which would otherwise be used for study and for engaging in other co-curricular activities which benefit the children’s growth and development.

DESIGN OF THE INTERACTION:

Eastern Produce Kenya, EPK, consider themselves as a meaningful and responsible contributor to the social and economic growth of Nandi County. To help schools gain access to water, EPK embarked on a rainwater harvesting (RWH) project in one of the secondary schools early in 2018.

When we initiated the project, it was a surprise to the school and the neighbouring community how much rain water was wasted through existing systems.

  • Prior to the project afternoon class attendance was around 70% or lower. Once the project was under way, during the second quarter of 2018, the school reported a significant increase in afternoon class attendance to almost 100%.
  • The administration reported a decrease in injuries resulting from fetching water from the rivers (to no incidents) for that same quarter.
  • Adolescent girls were more confident using the washrooms as the fear for soiling the floors was eliminated by the close proximity of the water taps - menstrual hygiene was a critical factor in school absenteeism for adolescent girls.

The success of this rainwater harvesting pilot encouraged EPK to extend the initiative to other neighbouring schools. Initially, supporting the schools by availing water through a tractor and a bowser, primarily for events and for construction. This did not have a direct impact on the daily lives of the pupils and students, as they were still affected by the afore mentioned constraints and risks relating to fetching water for school. In response to this, EPK established the rainwater harvesting project, dubbed, ‘Stretching the Rains’ which has now expanded to cover 21 schools, with an average population of 12,600 pupils.

Rainwater harvesting kits have been provided to each school, comprising of two water tanks with a capacity of 5,000 liters each, gutters, fascia boards and piping to either dormitory, science labs or a stand pipe. On average 25,000 liters of water is captured at each school per month.

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IMPACT:

To expand reach to more schools, EPK's CSR committee has been approving at least three rainwater harvesting projects for schools per quarter. The committee has surpassed that target, as so far 21 schools have already benefited from this ongoing initiative.  As a result, EPK have substantially increased water use efficiency through the RWH projects in schools across Nandi County. Helping to ensure more sustainable withdrawal and freshwater supply, addressing water scarcity in the region where there has been observed change in water efficiency over time - it is good to note here that time spent by the children collecting water has reduced, considerably improving the children’s wellbeing and education.

EPK are aware of the contribution this project has to the reduction in levels of water stress in the area. By increasing institutions’ capture of rain water, together, they are incrementally improving ground-water resources, 

  • A total of 12,600 pupils and students have more sustained access to water
  • 21 schools have benefited from a sustained and self-sufficient water resource
  • Absenteeism rates have reduced
  • Improvements in academic performance have been noted since launch of project at these schools
  • Improved conditions for young women and girls
  • A significant reduction in injurious incidents related to water collection
  • The water collection process has been adopted by other stakeholders in the community. To date, 5 other schools have received similar support from Non-governmental organisations and other school sponsors in the County.
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HURDLES TO SUCCESS:

With water available at schools, some members of the community started collecting water from school tanks for their livestock and other domestic use. This was addressed through community engagement forums, where parents were reminded of the benefits of utilising their home rooftops for water.

Over time EPK have observed a transformation in attitude towards rainwater in the community - families are increasingly using rainwater harvesting at home.

COLLABORATION:

EPK have collaborated mostly with the neighbouring community members, comprising primarily of smallholder tea farmers. Partnering with them to support their children in schools has been an important part of our continued work aimed at empowering the community and its members.

TRANSPARENCY:

All of our community-driven initiatives are made transparent and accessible through social media and other media. Continued good relations and partnership between EPK and the schools and other neighbouring institutions within Nandi County demonstrate the long-term integrity of these projects.

TRANSFERABILITY:

Other stakeholders have started to replicate the project in the area. We can also use learnings from this project to inform similar initiatives elsewhere across the Camellia Group. Through social media we hope that details of this project will inspire other communities to launch similar projects in Africa and beyond.

This project sought to support children’s health, wellbeing and education in the region, we have seen other benefits such as reduction in water abstraction in the region - helping to reduce water stress in our area.

COMMUNICATION:

EPK applies an integrative approach to leadership and community relations. Our CSR committee considers transparency and open engagement with stakeholders a major priority.

The committee is chaired by the Operations Director, members include the General Managers in charge of the four areas of operations within the company. The General Managers are responsible for community relations and enhancement in their respective regions and are actively involved in identifying and assessing community needs and probable solutions in their areas. Community figureheads are involved in the decision making, implementation and review processes. For EPK, three things stand out to ensure fair and supportive communication;

  1. Active listening and constructive dialogue, with emphasis on inquiry - asking and listening. This is activated through community dialogue meetings, Field days, exchange programs and other community/company visits.
  2. Agreed communication protocols which are mutually developed and transparent. Requests are made through the general managers, assessments are conducted, and responses/feedback is given accordingly.
  3. Accessible connection - useful, convenient and readily available communication (esp. social media) facilitate far reaching participation and engagement.
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2019 ESG Report