Planners from the NGO/NPO Engineers Without Borders Switzerland (IngOG+) are currently involved in a project evaluating the possibilities for a water supply for the ‘Massai-Internat’ boarding school of the Ilkeek Aare Primary School (IAPS) in Kenya. The school is located near Suswa, about 120 km west of the capital, Nairobi. As semi-nomads, the Massai living there cover great distances in the dry months in order to find adequate food for their livestock. It is during these times that the boarding school offers the Massai children the only possibility to live near a school. The weather phenomenon El Niño has increasingly exacerbated the problems of water supply in recent years, causing massive droughts in the area from July to October. And when the rains finally come, they resemble a flash flood and cannot be absorbed by the dried-out soil.
If the Massai children accompany their parents in their search for food, the distance to school becomes too great. In the past, they missed a large part of the school year and were not able to complete their education. This is regrettable but also has dire consequences for the population, because without a school-leaving certificate young people are unable to receive full civil rights. These are only acquired if the eight-year compulsory schooling is successfully completed.
Together with the Münster-Landois Lions Club and the Lions Club of Thika Chania Falls in Kenya, the Massai parents have turned the day school into a boarding school. This conversion allows the Massai children to stay in school whilst their parents are on the move. They can attend school all year round to learn and successfully pass their final exams.
Today, the IAPS provides schooling to about 700 children, with long-term plans to accommodate about 1,000. However, the local drinking water supply is putting operation of the boarding school at risk. There is not enough water during the dry season. The Lions Club is addressing this issue and sought a partner with the technical expertise to lay the groundwork for a functioning water supply. Through contacts, IngOG+ received a request to support the Lions Club with engineering assistance in planning and implementation. Its main task would be to examine the various options for a long-term and sustainable solution to the water supply problem, followed by detailed planning.
One solution under discussion is connection to a World Bank main water pipeline currently under construction. However, in addition to a technical solution, it must also be kept in mind that a functioning water pipeline may awaken envy in neighbours, leading to political tensions that could endanger the project. It must also be clarified as to who is responsible for maintaining the pipeline after commissioning, because for IngOG+, the issue of long-term usability is just as important as access to water.
Other approaches include wells and expansion of the rainwater collection system. If groundwater is present, extraction would be easier than connection to a nearby water pipeline. It may also be possible to direct water to the school from Mount Suswa, a nearby volcano. The elevated location of Mount Suswa would be ideal for this. The necessary data is currently lacking for carrying out professional planning. IngOG+ is therefore planning its first trip to the boarding school in Kenya in the first quarter of 2020.
We support the NGO/NPO with our experts’ knowledge in the field of drinking water as part of our mentoring partnership. Before their first visit to Kenya, we help the engineers put together important questions that will enable them to then seek the right answers.
The Rapp Group has many years of experience in this area through development cooperation with local farmers in Magunguli (Tanzania) including the planning and construction of an irrigation system.
Our financial support enables the engineers at IngOG+ to evaluate projects for approval. Only projects that sustainably improve the basic needs of the local people receive a commitment for support, after which time fundraising will be initiated. IngOG+ must pay for the preliminary clarifications itself. The NGO/NPO therefore welcomes financial donations in addition to volunteer support.
Working with IngOG+
Our traffic planner Anne-Kathrin Bodenbender has been a member of IngOG+ since 2008 and was involved in projects in Argentina. We asked her what her work for the association means to her, both personally and in terms of her profession.