Green energy enhances water access, saves costs for school

Learning goes on as usual at Cieria Primary School in Mbeere SouthSub-county of Embu. The classes are full, children attentive and teachers settled. While this may seem normal, it was not always the case. Children would often report late to school or even miss classes altogether as they joined their parents in search of water at Kiambere Dam about 15 kilometers away.

“Both people and livestock risked attacks by crocodiles, with some losing their lives while accessing water at the dam. The water quality in the dam is also low and cases of water-borne diseases were rampant,” recalls Mr. Elias Njeru, the Deputy Head teacher.

At the school, access to water remained a major challenge. Although there was a borehole, the school needed Ksh1, 000 daily for fuel to pump water, a cost that was too high. Sometimes it was impossible to cook for children under the School Feeding programme, even when food was available, due to lack of water.

Borehole rehabilitation 

It was a sigh of relief when the NDMA, with support from the European Union, facilitated the rehabilitation and installation of solar power infrastructure at a borehole right next to the school.

“School enrollment has since increased from 165 pupils to the current 250,” says Njeru.

This number, he adds, is anticipated to rise as pupils from other schools are increasingly preferring Cieria owing to water availability. Teachers from other regions would also shy away from the school due to the struggle in accessing water.

“Some teachers would seek transfers as soon as they were posted here. But we now have five that are well settled and working with ease,” says Mr. Njeru. He adds that the teachers are now comfortable as water is no longer an issue of concern. Stakeholders are also exploring the possibility of introducing boarding facilities at the school, thanks to water availability.

The borehole does not only benefit this institution. Nearby St Philip Cieria Mixed Secondary School has piped water from it, making access to the formally rare commodity easy and efficient. It also serves the local community, providing easy access to water for household use and livestock. In total, the borehole serves about 500households (approximately 2,500 people) in the locality.

Agricultural activities

Adjacent to the borehole is a farm dotted with various crops including assorted vegetables. The greenery is testament that although the sub-county is classified as semi-arid, it can support crop production if only water was available.

At Cieria primary school, pupils undertaking the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) can conveniently execute agriculture projects, as they access water for irrigation with ease.

And it is not just about the borehole, NDMA also provided three 10, 000-litre storage tanks – one situated at the borehole, while two others are within the school and used for rainwater harvesting.

We are able to harvest water during the rainy season. This way, we are even more water-secure and the school community can access water right within the compound,” notes Mr. Njeru.

Cieria is among four schools that received a total of 10 (10,000-litrecapacity) storage tanks from NDMA as part of drought preparedness efforts.