Aug 15, 2014

Africa's First 'Waterbank' Designed to End Water Wars

Rain harvesting school campus to transform education through water collection and agriculture

Kenya ‘Waterbank’ Rainwater Harvesting Reuse PITCHKenya PITCHAfrica

A unique secondary school campus, conceived and designed by the nonprofit design and innovation group PITCHAfrica, opens this month at the Endana Secondary School in Laikipia, Kenya. The Waterbank Campus comprises four unique, low-cost, rainwater harvesting building types invented by PITCHAfrica, and termed Waterbanks because of the building’s capacity to harvest and store high volumes of water at low cost, providing a year-round supply. The annual harvesting capability of the campus is in excess of 2 million liters of water in a semi-arid region. The buildings provide clean drinking water to the students and irrigation to the conservation agriculture plots that form a patchwork across the campus.

The centerpiece is PITCHKenya, PITCHAfrica’s rainwater harvesting five-a-side soccer and volleyball stadium with seating for 1,500 people and home to the Samuel Eto’o Football Academy. The structure that houses classrooms and an environmental education center has an annual rainwater harvesting and storage capacity of more than 1.5 million liters. Other buildings include a Waterbank dormitory for girls, a Waterbank canteen and Waterbank latrines — building prototypes developed by PITCHAfrica to meet essential water needs while addressing fundamental issues including sanitation, nutrition, gender equality and health. Additional structures include rainwater harvesting boys’ dormitories and staff housing.

Three hundred twenty million people on the African continent and 1 billion worldwide still do not have access to clean drinking water, yet the majority of these people live in regions where it rains more than 2 ft a year. Lack of access to water causes ill health and conflict worldwide. “Integrating harvesting, storing and filtering of rain into school community buildings supports communities in becoming increasingly self reliant for their water needs," said Jane Harrison, founder of PITCHAfrica. "This is possibly one of the greatest catalysts for change that a community can have. Bringing football into the mix brings passion, an attentive audience, bridging differences. This can make the desire to model peaceful collaboration and share knowledge about sustainable environmental practices a reality, while providing students with an environmentally engaged education, healthy food and clean water.”

The project has been implemented through a partnership between PITCHAfrica, locally based Zeitz Foundation and the school community, with sponsorship provided by international soccer star Samuel Eto’o’s private foundation, the Cameron O’Reilly family, Guernsey Overseas Aid and Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The Laikipia Unity Program, a soccer league with a strong environmental focus initiated by the Zeitz Foundation, will allow the Waterbank Campus to have an impact across the region, reaching more than 50,000 people.

PITCHKenya will be known locally as the Samuel Eto’o Laikipia Unity Football Academy, School and Environmental Education Centre. PITCHAfrica’s Waterbank Schools Initiative has received support from the Annenberg Foundation, Autodesk, the Buckminster Fuller Institute, Crowell and Moring, the Clinton Global Initiative, Interface Inc., the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Zeitz Foundation.