Engineers are problem solvers, and when it comes to water projects in rural areas of East Africa, problem solvers are invaluable. When Global Partners was approached for partnership by Obalwanda Primary School in Kenya and learned about the community’s desire to bring clean water to the school, we knew that our technical team’s skills, experience, and creativity would be needed. Sure enough, the team got right to work putting their heads together to figure out the best way to make turn this vision into reality.

Obalwanda Primary School currently has no source of clean water on its campus. Water is collected from a small pond about a mile from the school or donkey carts are hired to transport water to the school. The community has a borehole, but demand is very high. Women and children spend hours in line waiting to collect water. After meeting with school and local leaders, we realized that we needed to bring water not only to the primary school, but to a special needs school, the local dispensary (small health clinic), and to an additional community kiosk as well.

The team understood that the best option was to build off the existing borehole, but working with a 35 year old water project can be tricky. Along with adding pipes and distribution lines, we needed a more powerful pump to get the water to an elevated water tower about a mile from the borehole. At the same time, we didn’t want to cause a new set of problems by increasing the operational costs of the water system.

After considering a few different options, the team decided to install a solar-powered booster pump. Although we’ve done solar projects in the past, this is the first time that we will be using this type of solar pump, and, best of all, the pump and new distribution system will supply water to two schools, the dispensary, and an additional community kiosk with no increased operational cost!

The GPFD-Kenya team recently met with community members to map out the project’s distribution system, and work is underway! Local people are key to the success of this project, and a community water committee will ensure that the project is sustained into the future.