Our first entry into any community begins with the village primary school. Children are the most harshly affected by the absence of clean water. Because primary school is considered free education, it is the establishment that villagers are most invested in. It also tends to have the largest roof (catchment area) in the community.
When we enter the selected village, we come empty handed, armed only with our knowledge of harvesting the rain. We hold a village meeting and interview those that attend to collect data on issues like health, location of current water resources, time spent walking for water, sanitation and whether or not families boil water before consuming it. We test the available ground water resources for fecal and bacterial content.
The village then elects the best masons and laborers to become our core construction crew for the building of large scale rain catchment systems on the primary school. Community members that are not employed by the project volunteer their effort in excavation and water fetching. The elected team is employed for the duration of the project. This enables us to assist the local village economy while the project still benefits from community buy in. When the project is completed, some that have been employed by the project become part of the volunteer maintenance committee to ensure the systems continue to run properly.
Once completed, these systems provide the entire community with access to clean water. The rainwater harvesting systems require no electricity, no pumps or filtering additives. They are all gravity fed and have a 200 year life span. The tanks are open to the community during school hours and are locked down at night. School security keeps a watchful eye during the night. Clean water buckets and cups are donated to the school so that each classroom has access to clean drinking water through out the day.
414 million hours of learning time is lost each day by students in search of water or those affected by water borne illnesses. When systems are complete students no longer spend class time fetching water for the school. We have seen a 96% improvement in students general health once systems are in use.