Located in Southwest Kenya, Kolunje is a cohesive and well organized community of over 7,200 people. Our local partner, Endelevu Community Development Services (ECODS) has been working in Kolunje since 2003 on health and education projects. However, the lack of reliable sanitary water has crippled progress in Kolunje. Partnering with ECODS, the Rutgers student chapter is designing a sustainable water system meant to provide reliable, sanitary, and nearby water for the community of Kolunje.
The lack of access to clean water is a plaguing problem in Kolunje, Kenya. The community currently relies on a series of intermittent streams, shallow wells, and other unprotected sources of water. During household health surveys administered on the first assessment trip, cases of cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, and other waterborne disease were widespread.
Kolunge, Kenya is a community comprised of 7,200 people currently functioning without a water system. Many community members rely on unprotected water sources lke hand-dug wells and intermittent streams. Due to the lack of clean water sources, residents contract water borne diseases including typhoid, cholera, and diarrhea, and must be treated at Miranga Sub-District Hospital. Water collectors, most often women and children, spend up to three hours per day providing for family water needs. These pressures divert the attention of schoolchildren and hinder productivity in Kolunje.
In January 2010, EWB-USA Rutgers conducted the first assessment trip with a team of four students and two professional engineers. Data on water sources and other landmarks were collected in order to create a site map. Additionally, the team also conducted household interviews to collect baseline data on the needs and health of the community. Perhaps most importantly, indispensable relationships were made with the community.
After obtaining data from water testing and a hydrogeology report in the summer of 2010, the next step for the EWB-USA Rutgers is to drill a test well to better understand the groundwater conditions in Kolunje. As the project progresses, the test well will be utilized as a production well for the community. Additionally, our team anticipates engaging the community with a water use and health education program.
The Kolunje Water Project will increase access to clean water and will decrease the prevalence of waterborne disease, reduce the amount of time spent collecting water, and promote growth. The longevity of this project will be ensured by community ownership and a community fee levied to operate and maintain the system. Furthermore, our close collaboration with ECODS secures our project a valued partner in education and on the ground support.
The EWB-USA Rutgers University Student Chapter is committed to the goals of increasing access to potable water and improving health among Kolunje community members. EWB-USA RU will achieve this goal by implementing, monitoring, and evaluating our first water project and health program in Magwar village. Other projects like repairing or constructing rainwater catchment systems and bio-sand water filters will be explored to further EWB-USA's goals in Kolunje.
The Kenya team has recently returned from the first assessment trip that took place in August 2013. The planned borehole was drilled, but was not water bearing. After careful re-assessment and surveying, the team and community members decided to shift the focus of the project to rainwater catchment at the Miranga secondary school, primary school, and Lunga primary school. the remainder of the trip was spent assessing these schools for rainwater catchment. The team is now hard at work preparing the necessary documentation for the next implementation trip.
Project Lead(s): Colleen Thiersch
Professional Mentors: William Nichols, P.E. and Natalya Shimunova, P.E