Posted by: Wasrag | June 27, 2015

A Plea from One Club President to Another

Three years ago, the president of the Rotary Club of Downtown Los Angeles, Peter Lattey received a plea for help from the President of the Migori, Kenya Rotary club on the club’s facebook page. The Migori club was failing and he needed some advice. After some discussion it was decided that the club should find a service project that would raise their profile in the community. Thus was born a water and sanitation project that will ultimately provide clean water, latrines and hand wash stations to over 15,000 school students at 28 rural schools in Migori county, Kenya.

A student gets drinking water from a polluted water source.

A student gets drinking water from a polluted water source.

The Suna Migori club is now a vibrant, active club and is recognized as a group that gets things done for the community. When we started this project, the county government wanted no part of it. Rotary was seen as just another NGO that was probably corrupt and almost certainly incompetent. Phase one was a success and now, in phase two, the county politicians are providing half the water tanks and insist on meeting with Rotarians

This part of Kenya gets plenty of rain twice a year, but the groundwater is often of poor quality. We decided that the best solution to the water issue was to collect rainwater from the iron roofs of the schools and store it in above ground tanks. Most schools receive two, 10,000 liter tanks, a handwash station and a two door, wheelchair accessible latrine. Rotary provides the tanks, the plumbing and any skilled labour. The community digs the 25 ft deep latrine and provides the bricks for the latrine. They also provide materials for the base of the tanks and unskilled labour. The bulk of the money comes from the clubs and district funds in District 5280, Los Angeles but District 9212 and the Suna Migori club also provide funding.

In 2013/14 the Suna Migori Rotarians identified four schools and a rural clinic that had either no water or very poor water and poor latrines. With a Rotary Global Grant we provided each location with two tanks, a latrine and wash station. This immediately benefitted the 1,500 students. Enrollment jumped. Absenteeism due to disease fell. The local Rotarians finished the project in four months and the Grant was closed out two months later. Here is the link to a Yourtube video about the project http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ad54H49MsZU

Clean Rotary water for the students

Clean Rotary water for the students

The project was such as great success that we decided to turn it into a four year program. We just got approval for the Global Grant for the second year to service eight primary schools with over 4,500 students and one rural clinic. One of the schools was on the verge of being closed due to their poor latrines but can stay open because of our project.

The current grant has an interesting twist to it. The headmaster of one of the schools asked if we could do something to provide sanitary pads for the girls so they wouldn’t have to miss classes every month. We didn’t want to donate a big box of pads that would be used up in a month or two. We wanted to do something sustainable, so we explored the alternatives. The grant includes funding for a group of women in Migori to start a business manufacturing and selling low cost, washable sanitary pads. The pads will last several years but the cost is only equal to the cost of a six month supply of disposable pads and they won’t clog up the latrines. School canteens will get a discount. Once the business is established, there will be permanent jobs for at least a dozen women and a sustainable supply of washable sanitary pads for the girls and women of Kenya

We are looking for more clubs who would like to join us in the next phases of this great program. Or if you would like more information on this project, please contact Peter Lattey.

Rotarians inspect the water tanks at Kokach Primary

Rotarians inspect the water tanks at Kokach Primary

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An old latrine.

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A new hand wash station on the new latrine at Osingo Primary School

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Water tanks at Osingo Clinic with a happy doctor and patients.

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This student has just come back from buying a bottle of water to drink as there is no water at the school today. She is lucky she can afford this, most cannot.

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Responses

  1. Water is life.We have changef lives in the whole community.Long live Rotary and may the motto “Service above Self” dwell in us forever.


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