Chisongo Primary School Water Project – Zambia

This project is made possible through the partnership of Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association.

Chisongo Primary School, Mansa District, Luapula Province, Zambia

Community Description
The Chisongo community is rural and there is no electricity or running water.  Community members live in mud huts with grass thatch roofs. Most community members rely on farming as their source of income.  Chisongo Primary School is about 25 km or about 15.5 miles from the Provincial Capital of Mansa.

Problem Addressed
Chisongo Primary School has no functioning source of water on their campus.  There are open wells, each over 100 meters from school.  Having no lid or cover, these wells could easily be contaminated.  The water could not be trusted as a safe drinking water source and often dried completely in the hot season.

Like all the schools that the Water for Zambia project has targeted thus far, there was a merry-go-round play pump that had not worked since 2009.  This pump was intended to pump water through the energy created by children playing on the merry-go-round. As with many of these “play pumps” that were installed by well-meaning charities, the concept was not as successful in practice due in part to playing and needing water not always coinciding.  Unfortunately, the project failed and the pump quit working after just one year.

 Project Description
Water for Zambia is a movement started by RPCV Emily McKeone after her experience doing a number of similar water projects as a PCV in Zambia with Water Charity. We helped send her back to Zambia and continue where she left off, so to speak.

This project will remove the merry-go-round and all the rusted piping below.  The merry-go-round will be installed elsewhere for the children to play on. The rusted piping will be removed and replaced with PVC pipes. Each section of the PVC piping is 3 meters. The pipes will be securely connected with solvent cement. Then, a rope will be utilized to connect all piping together.

Under the Water for Zambia program, all targeted schools require borehole rehabilitations.  These rehabilitations require no further drilling.  The borehole at Chisongo Primary School will be 22.8 meters deep, with a static water level of 11.4 meters.  At the bottom of the well there will be a sand layer. At the end of the piping will be a sand screen to prevent any sand and debris from coming up through the pumping. The pedestal will then be attached to the concrete and a hand pump installed. The construction process will take a total of 5 days.

The pumping will allow water to flow at a rate of 10 liters per 21 seconds. The pump is easy for students to utilize and the water will be potable without purification. The new borehole will allow for students and teachers to improve the cleanliness of all school facilities, including toilets. The convenient source of water will allow student hygiene to also improve.  Girls are most impacted by this development.  Many young girls would once drop out of school after reaching puberty. The new water source will allow the girls to remain in school.

Additionally, the surrounding villages and community members will come to the school to access the new source of water. There are certain hours when the borehole will be open to the community.  During open hours, the borehole will be a center of activity, where men, women, and children of many ages can come to collect water, chat, and laugh.  All community members utilizing the water source will pay a small fee to the school that is then saved in a spare parts fund for future repairs.

The above- ground improvements will include the creation of a cement apron around the pump and a drainage way to direct overflow to a soak pit. The soak pit collects all runoff water. Students will be provided with fruit trees to plant near the new water source.

All construction carried out by the Water for Zambia project is done in partnership with the local government council. The construction team comes from the Mansa Municipal Council located in the district capital, Mansa, in the Luapula Province. There are five men involved in the project.

Swala Mumba is certified as a trainer of trainers in borehole construction and maintenance. He is directing the team and handling all administrative tasks on the ground in Mansa. Swala is trained in record keeping, program planning, and accounting. He has an advanced diploma in project management from the Institute of Commercial Management (located in the UK). He started working at the Mansa Municipal Council in 2008 as a rural water supply and sanitation assistant.

Bernard Chansa is also certified as a trainer of trainers in borehole construction and maintenance. He is also the only plumber at the Mansa Municipal Council, and is, therefore, always needed for countless tasks. He started working at the council in 2006. He leads the construction team in the field.

Patrick Chabu is a skilled bricklayer. He is in charge of the soak pit construction and plastering at all the schools. He started working for the council in 2007. Michael Mpana and Daniel Impundu are half brothers. Michael is 20 years old and Daniel is 19. They are both handymen and help with all the labor heavy tasks. They are in training with Mr. Chansa in borehole construction and maintenance.

The schools and surrounding communities have been involved in every step of this project’s progress. These boreholes have an expected lifetime of 50 years. It is the hope of many that the communities will sustain their borehole for that lifetime.

During the construction process, the community will provide sand, and stone for the project. The value of these contributions is about 20% of full project cost.

The students will be engaged in the process of sensitizing the community.  Teachers will prepare a course about water, sanitation, and proper utilization of the borehole.  Class discussions will include information about boiling drinking water, chlorine usage, washing hands after latrine use and proper hygiene.  Following the course, students will create sketches, poems, dances, and songs of various scenarios around water and sanitation. The performances will demonstrate proper and improper borehole use.  The students will present to the community at large for a day of sensitization and celebration.

Project Impact
This project will impact 727 people, comprised of 716 students enrolled at the school and a teaching staff of 11.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Emily McKeone

Monitoring and Maintenance 
Chisongo Primary School has formed a maintenance committee to monitor and protect the borehole. Teachers and the Parent Teacher Association are involved in the committee and will ensure proper regulation, operation, and maintenance. This committee will meet regularly to address any issues that arise. The committee will be responsible for determining hours of operation for the borehole (and locking the borehole on off hours), as well as community fees. All community fees will be safely secured for a spare parts fund.  Spare parts are available in the district capital of Mansa. Additionally, rural area pump minders are trained to repair the Afridev boreholes. Area pump minders (or APM’s) are equipped with toolkits and bicycles to reach rural areas and assist with repairs.

The school will now have a reliable source of drinking water. The struggle to find water and the time spent searching will be eliminated. Since the task of fetching water mostly falls on young girls, this project will most impact them. The students will have more time to dedicate to their studies and other tasks. The impact of a clean water source on campus is expected to improve health and sanitation at school, resulting in improved school attendance. The school will be instructed to plant fruit trees near the borehole, to also assist with the issue of food security in the area. Finally, the school is in the process of constructing an additional classroom for students. It is expected that construction will be completed sooner as a result of the new, convenient source of water.

While this is not an official Let Girls Learn project, it does fall into Water Charity’s LGL+ grouping of projects that have a pronounced element involving helping girls go to, and stay in, school, and part of Water Charity’s Let Girls Learn Initiative.

Emily McKeone worked with Water Charity as a PCV, directing the prototype project, which created boreholes for three schools.  With the assistance of Water Charity, she was able to come back to Zambia as an RPCV and continue her work.  This project is #12 of 13 school boreholes with Emily, bringing the total to 16 schools boreholes in Zambia.

$0 – This project has been funded by a major Water Charity donor, who prefers to remain anonymous.  Any additional donations will be utilized to fund more projects in Zambia.

This program is part of the Water Charity and National Peace Corps Association East Africa Water and Sanitation Program.

This project has been completed.  To read about the conclusion, CLICK HERE.