Emily McKeone is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Zambia. The rural village she lived in for 24 months consisted of mud huts with grass thatch roofs, and no electricity or running water. She witnessed villagers consuming water unfit for drinking, mostly from streams and other unsafe water sources. Emily's dream developed there, to see these people who shared so much with her, gain access to reliable and clean sources of drinking water.
During her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer, she raised funds to assist three rural primary schools with improved access to clean water. Through working with the local community, a new hand pump well (or “borehole”) was installed at each of the three primary schools. The lifetime of each borehole is expected to be 50 years. Each borehole provides clean, safe drinking water for 300 people daily.
This experience proved that many are eager and willing to assist with solving a problem that is unfathomable in their own daily lives. Just as the Zambian community continually assisted her, a foreigner, with the challenges she faced daily, she found others abroad willing to assist her in the task to bring clean water to schools. This simple optimism is the backbone of the Water for Zambia project- the belief that strangers helping strangers, those with something to give helping those without, can solve vast problems and make a difference.
It is the hope of many, that this generous and ideal perspective can be realized again and again. With your assistance, other schools facing water crises in Zambia can experience enhanced health and opportunity.
The schools and their surrounding communities most impacted by this project are located in the province of Luapula, in and around the district of Mansa. One must endure a 15 hour night bus from the capital of the country, Lusaka, to reach Mansa town. The communities impacted by the project are rural, often without electricity or running water. The majority of Zambians in this part of the country are subsistence farmers.
Bahati Primary School is about 25 kilometers or 15.5 miles from the Provincial Capital of Mansa. The school lacked a viable source of clean water and was struggling to complete construction projects. It was a two room school, with hundreds of students. Some of the classes were having to be taught in a nearby church. Students would fetch water from an open well. During the dry season, even the well would dry, leaving students with no other option but to walk many kilometers to find water.
In January 2014, construction of the new borehole began at Bahati Primary School. The piping of the existing structure, that had not functioned since 2009, was removed and replaced with new PVC piping. Then, the borehole was installed and soak pit completed. Construction took less than one month.
The borehole at Bahati allowed for construction projects to be completed, providing the school with much needed teaching space. As health and sanitation improved from this safe water source, so did school attendance. Even food security improved as the students are able to plant gardens and orchards at their school.
Ntoposhi Primary School is about 20 kilometers or 12.4 miles from Mansa town. It was the first school Emily ever visited during her Peace Corps service, and it was here that she learned of the water crisis the area was facing. During her service she spent many days at the school, developing close friendships with teachers and students. These relationships inspired her to action, ultimately evolving into the Water for Zambia project.
Identical to Bahati Primary School, Ntoposhi had an existing play pump structure that had not functioned in years. We completed the same renovation at Ntoposhi. Replacing rusted iron piping with PVC and removing the existing merry-go-round pump. Then, installing a borehole that has an expected lifetime of 50 years. All the boreholes installed by the Water for Zambia project have the capacity to provide clean drinking water to 300 people everyday.
Kampalala Primary School is about 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles from the nearest town of Mansa. The school lacked a viable source of clean water and was struggling with teacher attendance. Since the borehole was installed, the school has undergone several major renovations and acquired a new head teacher. Ultimately, school attendance improved for both teachers and pupils after acquiring a safe water source.
Mbaso Primary School is about 30 kilometers or 18.6 miles from the Provincial Capital of Mansa. There are 485 students who attend school at Mbaso Primary, and there is a teaching staff of 11. The school was utilizing an open well that would become depleted during the hot season, forcing students to walk long distances to find an alternative source of water. Water for Zambia installed a borehole at the school in August 2015. Boreholes are covered hand pump wells and provide much cleaner water than open wells. With this new water source, the students will no longer have to search for water during the dry season. Since the task of fetching water mostly falls on young girls, this new borehole will mostly impact the female students. The borehole will allow the girls more time for studies and other tasks.
Kabende Primary School is about 25 kilometers or 15.5 miles from the town of Mansa. The school has 7 teachers and 526 students. Like Mbaso Primary, the students were utilizing an open well for their drinking water. During the dry season the well would dry up. The school struggled to find alternative sources of water. The new borehole will allow students to spend more time focusing on their studies and other tasks, instead of spending hours searching for and collecting water. The borehole will also provide much cleaner water than the old, uncovered well.
Namandwe Primary School is approximately 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles from the Provincial Capital of Mansa. There are 1,371 students enrolled at this school, with a teaching staff of 38. The school had no functioning source of water on their campus- only an irreparable borehole. Due to an excess amount of iron in the groundwater of Luapula Province, steel piping within boreholes quickly becomes rusted, contaminating the water. Water for Zambia removed all the rusted pipes and installed a new borehole with PVC piping. Now, students and teachers have a source of clean water at school. This has been transformative for the school and will undoubtedly lead to improved health and school attendance for students and teachers alike.
Lets work together to raise awareness about the extremities of our world, while making the dream of many young Zambians a reality through the development of water resources at their schools. Emily has shared presentations to hundreds of students- speaking at elementary schools and on college campuses. In fact, students have been so engaged, they've raised over $1,000 for the cause! Schools, businesses, and other organizations are encouraged to get involved in the efforts. Creative ideas are welcome!Have an idea or want Emily to assist in facilitating a discussion? Email firstname.lastname@example.org