Photograph of Sample Rainwater Harvesting System

Sample Concrete Biosand Filter

The Howard chapter of Engineers Without Borders will build a rainwater harvesting unit and install six biosand filters in Nandi Hills, Kenya, which will increase both water quantity and quality.

The new tank will provide an additional 2,600 gallons of water for an orphanage in Choimim village. It is home to nearly two dozen children.

This rural community in the Rift Valley region, comprised mostly of tea and cattle farmers, has approximately 1,000 families with an average of seven members per household. It does not have running water and very few homes have electricity. The community relies mostly on water from shallow wells and harvest water with buckets in the rainy seasons. There are two rainy seasons in Kenya (a short rainy season in November and a longer one that usually lasts from the end of March to May). However, the rainwater and water from the wells, for the most part, goes unfiltered. Currently, the orphanage has three 2,600-gallon tanks. The additional tank installed by EWB-HU will expand their capacity to more than 10,000 gallons.

The team will add a first flush filtration system to remove any impurities (including dirt, pollen etc)before the rainwater enters the tank.

The team will also install six biosand filters, which will be used to purify water gathered from the river and wells in the community. Water testing conducted during the December 2010 assessment revealed high levels of bacteria including E coli and coliform (fecal deposits) in the river water the community shares with the cattle. The orphanage will have two biosand filters installed.

In addition, EWB-HU will add biosand filters in four homes. The team has identified and will train these community engineers to maintain the filters and use them effectively. Each filter is about 45USD (3,645 Kenyan Shilling). This could make a big difference in the quality of water and reduce the number of preventable waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever and diarrhea.

The team will partner also with Running Water International to locally secure the materials.

Follow the EWB-HU mission in Kenya.

Dr. Kerry-Ann Hamilton, director of strategic communications and marketing, is traveling with EWB-HU on their service mission to Kenya. The blog “Water is Life” chronicles the travels and work of the 9-member delegation from Howard University.