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          Water, Education and Climate Change

            "The water- bank model and technology needs to be replicated not only in water-stressed zones but in the construction of all other public buildings and community spaces," ~ Governor Laikipia County Joshua Irungu.

                            

             In Africa, people spend thousands of hours finding and fetching water, a task associated with women and children especially in communities living in arid areas. The long hours spent finding this precious commodity results in massive loss of time. This keeps them away from work, their families, productive livelihood activities and school. The risks associated with these activities are also immense including wildlife attacks, sexual harassment and assault while on way to fetch water.

             The Zeitz Foundation is addressing this challenge through a unique model that addresses both water and educational needs. Speaking recently during the launch of the Ereri school water bank, the Director of the Zeitz Foundation, Mr. Njenga Kahiro noted that the model challenges the conventional way of construction offering a solution to people living in water-stressed zones while addressing much needed educational facilities.

             Speaking at the same event, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for Environment, Natural resources and regional authorities, Prof Judi Wakhungu praised the model as viable and replicable climate change adaptation “I am pleased that the water-bank model is taking root here and providing a template for other counties and other countries to emulate in community climate ch change adaptation.” 

             The Ereri water- bank is the 6th such building constructed by the Zeitz Foundation with funding from the Parker Fray Family. The building harvests and stores 100,000 litres of water while at the same time, offering a conducive learning facility to more than 320 students and teachers. It has 5 classrooms and 2 teacher offices with a central multipurpose courtyard easily used as an assembly ground or a theatre hall. The first rainwater harvesting building at Uaso Nyiro Primary School, was constructed in 2012 and won the 2013 US Green Building Council’s “Greenest School on Earth” Award and was listed on Sustainia 100. Its construction was funded by Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission and harvests 360,000 litres annually.

             The launch event, on April 14th 2016, was officiated by the CS Prof Judi Wakhungu, and graced by Laikipia North Member of Parliament, Hon. Mathew Lempurkel and Governor Joshua Irungu among other government officials, partners and stakeholders from both national and county level with teachers, students and hundreds of community members in attendance. Prof. Wakhungu noted that rainwater harvesting is a major contribution towards attaining Kenya’s Vision 2030 as lack of water is a major constraint to economic development. This is especially so in Laikipia, where communities are vulnerable to effects of climate change and are faced with challenges of availability of water both in sufficient quantity and quality. The Governor of Laikipia promised to have the model and technology replicated in other areas of the county.         

             This latest water-bank at Ereri is yet another validation of the Zeitz Foundation’s successful structured approach of balancing the 4Cs- Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce. Other initiatives including the Leveraging Markets for Climate Friendly Sustainable Development project that focuses on conservation agriculture, rainwater harvesting and ecological restoration in climate change mitigation and adaptation. It is being implemented together with Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the County government of Laikipia and NEPcon of Denmark with funding from the Zeitz Foundation and the Nordic Climate Facility.

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