Katie Spotz has challenged schools in the US to raise funds to implement safe water programs in 12 new Aqua Clara partner schools and establish 12 new micro-enterprises. Fairmount Minerals is
matching the donations up to $40,000.
Aqua Clara International (ACI) has been working in the Kisii region of Kenya since June 2009 and based on program success in the Kisii region, launched a second program region in the rural areas around Eldoret in early 2011. The Kisii region is a hilly and densely populated area with fairly regular and consistent rainfall. The rural areas around Eldoret are comparatively more sparsely populated and the dry seasons tend to be longer. The walk for water and subsequent challenge of treating water are daily struggles for school children and women in both regions.
ACI is currently working in 36 schools across the two regions and there is significant demand for project expansion from neighboring schools and communities. [See 'Approach and Technology' section for more detail on the ACI program model.]
The most common water sources in the Kisii area are springs (both protected and unprotected) as well as surface water. From our survey information, we have found that the average length of time that it takes people to walk to and from their water source is around 45+ minutes. When families or schools are large, multiple trips are necessary to provide sufficient water for their needs. Women and young girls are the people who bear most of the burden for collecting water that results in lost time at school or other important activities. The most common water sources in the Eldoret region are shallow wells and surface water. Our test results on a wide range of water sources in both regions have shown high levels of bacteriological contamination.
Water borne diseases such as amoeba, typhoid, diarrhea and giardia are still very common in both areas - this information is based upon discussions with staff at rural clinics and reports from ACI staff and Community Health Promoters (CHPs). Local people understand that water treatment is important, but with the rising cost and scarcity of firewood and charcoal, families and schools in particular find it more difficult to boil their drinking water. [Boiling is the most common water treatment of choice in both regions.] The locally made, ACI biosand water filters have proven to be a popular and convenient way of treating water, but the demand currently outstrips what the Community Development Entrepreneurs (CDEs) are able to satisfy. It is also obvious that water filtration is not enough. Hygiene education is also a very pressing need in both regions, especially for school children and women.
In both regions, we have observed that some of the schools and households have rudimentary rainwater harvesting systems that help to lessen the burden of the daily search for water during the rainy seasons. The rainwater tanks that we have come across are typically in poor condition with open or rusting collection containers, leaky gutters and no way to flush or clean the container. The costs to get good rainwater harvesting units to the rural areas are often prohibitively expensive for rural people. There are several layers of 'middle men' throughout the supply chain that increase the costs substantially. Our tests on the rainwater, although better than the ground and surface water tests still show significant bacteriological contamination.
In 2010 thanks to funding through Blue Planet Network, ACI was able to establish a WASH Training Center in the Kisii region as well as train and launch a number of new filter producing businesses. Currently, ACI has 36 Community Development Entrepreneurs (CDEs) in the Kenya who are actively constructing, marketing, selling and maintaining ACI biosand water filters, hand washing stations and safe water storage containers. ACI also has a network of 23 Community Health Promoters (CHPs) who actively oversee the work of the CDEs as well as providing additional hygiene education to the filter end users and children at the ACI schools.
ACI set up a number of demonstration RWH units at the WASH Training Center and is in the process of training CDEs in the construction and installation of 20 rainwater harvesting systems as ACI schools in both regions. There has been significant local interest in this expansion of this project that requires an upfront investment in training, tools and materials, but thanks to our carbon credit funding, will require little ongoing financial support. The ACI program is intentionally designed to be locally demand driven and we have seen that local demand increase substantially over the past few years.
LocationRigoma, Kisii County, Kenya
Primary Focus: Rainwater Harvesting
Secondary Focus: Drinking Water - Community
People Getting Safe Drinking Water: 120
Most of the schools have a minimum of 10 Teachers, Administrators, and Support staff. These personnel plus their immediate families will benefit from access to additional sources of water for the school.
School Children Getting Water: 6,000
Within Kisii and Eldoret regions, the average school size is around 500 students per school. Each school will receive Rain Water Harvesting Units to provide an additional water source to the students. They will also receive bio sand filters to provide clean drinking water for the students.
People Getting Sanitation: 0
People Getting Other Benefits: 24
As part of this program, new ACI Community Development Entrepreneurs (CDE) and Community Health Promoters (CHP) will be trained - 1 CDE and 1 CHP per school. They will gain education on water treatment, health and hygiene, the opportunity to earn a supplementary income, construction and water testing skills. As the CDE's construct and sell their filters and RWH tanks in the surrounding community, additional families will receive access to clean water as well.
Application Type: Program Funding
Start Date: 2012-08-02
Completion Date: 2013-08-01
The ACI program model is based upon the premise that the projects should be locally managed and as locally driven as possible. We train local experts to build WASH products out of locally sourced materials and help them to create locally sustainable small businesses. ACI believes that there should be a local expert available to perform any necessary maintenance and also serve as an easily accessible information resource for the local community.
The ACI Community Development Entrepreneurs (CDEs) are based at rural primary schools - the schools serve as demonstration sites for the ACI products as well as providing secure storage for the raw materials necessary for construction. The school children and teachers benefit by using the WASH products, while also learning about good WASH practice through the ACI led school water and hygiene clubs. Local community members are able to visit the school, see and try the products first hand, potentially buy the product and also learn about good WASH practices.
Currently, the ACI product mix includes household biosand filters, safe water storage containers, hand washing stations and plastic rainwater harvesting systems. Our goal is to increase the product range so that we can best answer the local needs of a community in a sustainable way.
ACI works by training the CDEs and supplying them with sufficient tools and materials for their first set of products. The CDEs then sell these products to their local community and can earn a small profit that is set by ACI. The material cost of the product is repaid into what we call our material resupply bank account - that money then covers the next set of raw materials for the next set of products. This approach is also known as micro-consignment or a revolving loan.
To date, there are over 2,500 biosand water filters in households and schools across the Kisii and Eldoret program regions and every week, our office receives more applications from schools and communities that want to be part of the program.
The ACI biosand filter is constructed using locally available 75 liter plastic containers. When compared with concrete, the plastic containers are easier for the CDEs to work with as well as easier for them to transport either by carrying them to a household or traveling by motorcycle. The concrete biosand filters are a better fit for a centralized operation as working with concrete requires comparatively more expensive molds and more advanced masonry skills.
ACI has set up various sizes of rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems at the WASH Training Center and thanks to funding from Row for Water and MSSCT via PWX, we have installed 4 large scale rainwater harvesting systems at partner schools in the Kisii area - 16 more systems are currently in process. We have worked with a CAWST International Technical Adviser who helped us work through some of the design issues as well as add a simple system to minimize debris getting into the rainwater tank. As with our biosand water filters, we have used locally available plastic containers for the demonstration RWH units. Plastic has the advantages of being easier to work with, cheaper to transport to the end location and of course cheaper to the end user.
Through our work with biosand filters, ACI staff has established relationships with plastics manufacturers and have been able to secure much lower delivered prices on the main components for the rooftop RWH systems. As with the biosand filters, ACI staff manage the RWH supply chain to ensure that quality remains high and that cost remains low. ACI uses the same system of oversight that has been established for the biosand filters to monitor the construction standards and use practices of the RWH units. There is a sound economy of scale in adding additional products to the same oversight and management loop.
The school RWH are similar to the ones that have been set up at the training center. Each system is designed according to the specific needs and roof space availability at the particular school. The systems are also designed to provide 2-3 liters of water per student per school day with adequate storage to provide water during the dry seasons. The school and parents are responsible for constructing the concrete bases for the various rain tanks. Generally, the approach has been to have one large 10,000-liter tank as well as some smaller tanks to demonstrate household sized systems.
ACI has followed the approach of another organization called Waterlines who have substantial experience of implementing RWH systems at schools in a neighboring region near Bomet. The community contribution to the units is around 20%.
Last year, ACI launched school based Water & Hygiene Clubs at each of our partner schools. There were several reasons for this. It is widely known that children are early adopters of new ideas and products and they are in a unique position to help educate their family members at the household level. We have targeted the clubs to be open to children from classes 5-8. Our Community Health Promoters believe that this is a key age as these children are beginning to take more responsibility for the household hygiene and water needs. The schools are the local face of the ACI program and with that in mind, it is important that the various products are properly demonstrated and used. Some of the practical responsibilities of the clubs are to ensure that the biosand filter is used regularly, to clean the safe water storage containers on a daily basis according to ACI training, and to ensure that the hand washing stations have sufficient supply of water and soap.
ACI supports the school Water & Hygiene Clubs through the ACI Community Health Promoters (CHPs). Part of the CHP monthly meeting focuses on the lesson plans for the upcoming month of school club meetings. The Water & Hygiene clubs meet weekly and the CHPs attend the meetings twice per month on alternating weeks to carry out a lesson plan that has been set by ACI. These lessons cover a variety of topics including water treatment options, disease transmission, hand washing, etc and are designed to be practical, informative and fun. On the interim weeks when the CHP is not at the club meetings, it is the club's responsibility to teach what they have learned to another class at the school. This will help reinforce what they have learned while also helping to educate other students at the school.
The schools that are selected for this program become partners with ACI. For example, ACI provides one safe water storage container and one handwashing station per classroom, but only after the school and parents have constructed wooden stands for the products. An important aspect of the partnership agreement between ACI and the school is that the school agrees to ensure that all the products are used and maintained properly according to the high standards set by ACI.
1: Select schools; 2:Train a CDE and CHP from each selected school community; 3: Supply tools, materials & launch program at school; 4: Construct rain tank at school & start school clubs; 5:Monitor program
The ACI model is based on community ownership and local demand for the project. The selection process for the CDE and CHP involves a community nomination process which helps with local accountability - local chiefs, elders, the school parent teacher association and school administration are all involved in selecting the candidates for the CDE and CHP positions. Transfer of ownership of the products is based upon consistent proper use by the schools. The ACI CHPs inspect the various products when they visit the school Water & Hygiene clubs and ensure that the hand washing stations have soap, ensure the biosand filters are in good condition etc. The project and products are highly accessible to the rural community members surrounding the schools as the school is seen as neutral ground. The most important aspect of ownership is that the CDE essentially runs their own small social business - their success is based upon their own motivation and local demand. ACI has found that community members are proud that their biosand filter or safe water storage container is made by a local person.
ACI actively works with the local District Education Officer in both regions of operation. The District Education Officer is instrumental in introducing the project to the local schools and ensures that the improved WASH standards in the schools are in line with the Kenyan governmental guidelines. Our WASH Training Center is based at the District Officer's compound in the Kisii region - the space for the center was donated by the District Officer on behalf of the local community. ACI also has a close working relationship with the District Agricultural Officer in the Kisii region who regularly uses the training center and particularly the demonstration Eco San latrines and high yield gardens when she trains local farmers.
The ACI program builds local capacity. CDEs gain job skills in construction, marketing, and business management. CHPs learn how to train key audiences in better WASH practice as well as how to carry out surveys, basic water tests and run school clubs.
Katie Spotz has supported two Aqua Clara projects through Blue Planet Network's Peer Water Exchange. We were delighted when Katie was able to spend a month with the ACI team in Kenya at the end of 2011. Katie had the opportunity to see the impact that her donations have had on the people in Kenya and she was particularly keen to do something more to help the schools that she visited.
Schools for Water links schools in the US with Aqua Clara schools in rural Kenya. Katie challenged the US schools to raise funds to bring clean water to their Kenyan partner school and we have been amazed by their response. Fairmount Minerals, a long term, committed supporter of the ACI program have committed to match the funds raised by the US students up to $40,000. Schools in the US have raised funds through bake sales, water walks, t shirt sales, food fasts and many other fun and original ideas. Some of the US schools have already connected with their partner Kenyan school through penpal relationships and it has been great to see the US students' awareness of world water issues grow through this campaign. US schools have also received a school profile that describes the current water situation at their partner school in Kenya. The ACI partner schools in rural Kenya are excited about getting access to safe drinking water and hygiene education soon!
Fundraising for this campaign will continue until Memorial Day weekend so after the funds are counted, we will be able to give a final indication of the number of school projects that can be implemented in Kenya. The culmination of the campaign was an educational event held on Memorial Day weekend at the Lake County Captain's home field near Cleveland, Ohio. US students and supporters worked together to break the world record for the largest number of people carrying water on their heads while also continuing to raise awareness for the need for clean water.
Our sustainability plan is twofold, one part relating to the operations of the school systems and the other relating to the CDE businesses focused on selling and installing bio-sand filters and home-based rainwater harvesting systems.
Sustainability of the school rainwater harvesting systems will be predicated on their continued effective use in each school. Community Health Promoters will be visiting the schools at least twice per month to run the ACI Schools Water and Hygiene Clubs; during these visits they will also be tasked with checking that the school's system and all the products at the school are being properly used and maintained. The CDEs base their businesses from the school so they will also be there on a regular basis and able to identify any problems that might arise.
The sustainability of the CDE businesses focused on selling and installing home-based rainwater harvesting systems will be based upon keeping our costs low throughout our supply chain, and training more CDEs to respond to local demand in their areas and thus expand the reach and impact of the program. In doing so we will be increasing revenue that will not only support CDEs but also sustain the replenishment of the supply chain to continue their operations. At the same time, we continue to maintain a commitment to local oversight, which, when combined with local pride in Kenyan-constructed systems, will contribute to the sustainability of the effort.
Maintenance Cost: $1,200
Monthly Meetings are held to evaluate the school activities being implemented by the CHPs. In addition, the CDE's will supply monthly reports on sales of filters and RWH unit's made to community families. This information will assist ACI to track the success and impact of the program over time. The ACI office staff is also required to conduct a survey on every new filter as well as provide data on number of filters per community and conduct regular water tests.
The program is broken down into 8 categories in order to implement the multifaceted program. We estimate the initial investment for each school to be around $7300 to cover all of the necessary materials, implementation, and monitoring costs. This program will not only affect thousands of people immediately, but will have an exponential impact on the target communities in the years to come.
Co Funding Amount: $40,000
Fairmount Minerals based in Chardon, Ohio have been long term committed supporters of the ACI program. They have generously agreed to match the donations from the schools involved in the Schools for Water program up to $40,000.
Community Contribution Amount: $250
The school administration and parents association build the various concrete bases for the rainwater harvesting systems, provide some of the timber and labour during the construction process. They also agree to maintain the Rain Water systems and Filtration systems. If maintenance is not carried out, ACI has the right to remove the materials and place them in another school.