Construction of 10 Rainwater Tanks for the Borana Community
Project location: KENYA, Sololo
Project start date: December 2010 - Project end date: February 2011
Project number: 2010-43
Beneficiary: Mondeco Onlus
The project's goal is to guarantee the basic needs (sustenance, medical care, primary education) of children - orphans and/or in extremely critical situations - in the Sololo zone (northern Kenya on the Ethiopian border, not far from the border with Somalia, populated by the Borana ethnic group) by supporting their birth families or the extended families accommodating them. A home unit is being constructed in the Obbijtu Children's Home to accommodate children without any family whatsoever. The Obbijtu Children's Home aims to be an open facility, integrated into the local community and culture.
In the first place, the preference is to support the child and their native or extended family. If this is not possible, the child is accommodated in a family home unit in a suitable facility that is to all intents and purposes organised like any other neighbourhood of the nineteen that currently form the city of Sololo.
This intervention has arisen to fill a gap in the activities specifically targeting underage and/or vulnerable orphans in the area of Sololo (and throughout Northern Kenya), and aims to prevent the "street children" phenomenon that has already become widespread in nearby townships (Moyale and Marsabit).
In remote and isolated areas like Sololo, the traditional customs are still very much to the fore and respected, and according to this the family of a living brother of the deceased is responsible for their family. If there is no living brother, the grandmother takes care of her grandchildren. This model guarantees complete protection for the orphans. Furthermore, the traditional system of "circulating children", a de facto family fostering arrangement, is a heartfelt form of assistance existing in the society system of the Borana ethnic group.
Unfortunately, in a context, like Sololo, of extreme poverty this traditional system of aid for the orphans will not be able to handle the exponentially increasing number of them. This increase is very closely connected to the presence of HIV/AIDS.
Furthermore, in recent decades, the traditional family model in Kenya is also undergoing great change caused by the impact of new western and Islamic lifestyle models. Indeed, the stability of values is being undermined and traditional models are being questioned. The traditional extended and polygamist family is being replaced by the concept of a monogamous and single-parent family unit, something that was in the past completely extraneous to the local culture. The bonds inside the clans are becoming weaker and this cultural conflict between past and present has a negative effective, causing problems in terms of assistance for children, who are the most vulnerable group threatened by these changes and imbalances.
This project is the result of a specific request communicated by the Project manager of CCM (Comitato Collaborazione Medica - medical collaboration committee), an Italian NGO present in the territory for some time. The request expressed by inhabitants in Sololo in 2004 through the local government authorities and their Assembly Authorities concerned the need to protect underage children with problems.
The request was carried out with the collaboration of a local CIPAD organisation, the CCM and the Mondeco Association of Muggiò for an integrated, multidisciplinary response to the needs of underage children within the autonomy and respecting the civil society of Sololo. Since then, Mondeco has begun assisting many underage children in the families by distributing food and providing medical care. At the moment, Mondeco is following up about 300 underage children in 105 families in the territory.
In 2005, with the authorisation of the government, the Committee of Elders voted to assign land to build the Obbijtu Children's Home, a village to accommodate any children without the support of a family. Construction of the centre was recently completed and it is now ready to accommodate two families of 10 children each; it can also be expanded on a modular basis to meet future requirements.
The agreement between the associations involved and the local civil society has led to the following operating structure:
CCM managed the construction of the real estate and handed it over to the local CIPAD association. CIPAD became the owner of the "Progetto-Sololo" project and manages it with the cooperation and combined decision making with Mondeco, which provides economic support and provides methodological supervision to guarantee that the activities continue according to the criteria dictated by international guidelines for the protection of children.
Volunteers from the Mondeco Association are on site several times a year and the local association sends it constant updates on the situation of the children under care.
This system has been put forward to make the most of the resources present on the territory, in keeping with the local culture and tradition, not falling into the trap of simple welfare but also controlling the economic and operating activity.
Start-up of the Obbijtu Children's Home was initiated in early 2010, which will allow accommodation of 20 orphans in a very short time. Access to Obbijtu will be agreed with the local counterpart in order to respect child, family and cultural tradition as much as possible.
The need to significantly increase availability of water for the Obbijtu Children's Home arises from the context described above.
The Sololo zone has very little water. Precipitation is low and is concentrated in a limited period of time. It is also very difficult to dig wells because the water table is very low - more than 300 metres below ground, making the cost exorbitant. People and animals alike use the manmade reservoirs constructed to contain rainwater.
Consequently, not only is the amount of water available to the inhabitants of Sololo and its surrounds considerably lower than their daily needs, it is also incompatible with minimum hygiene standards.
During drought years, the situation worsens considerably and often the Borana group have lost their herds.
In a situation like this, it becomes important to expand the possibilities to collect and store rainwater in different ways as well, channelling the water from roofs and storing it in tanks.
The Obbijtu Children's Home is already equipped with some rainwater tanks but their capacity is considerably below the needs of the home as soon as the village begins accommodating children.
The grant awarded by the Nando Peretti Foundation concerns the possibility of another ten 5000-litre rainwater tanks. These polyethylene tanks will be located near the children's homes on a cement foundation. This is seen as the most long-lasting and low-maintenance solution. This will make it possible to store more water for the daily needs of the 20 children currently living there. The water will be used in keeping with the Borana habits - to drink, to cook and for washing themselves only. The village has pit latrines as toilet facilities.
Because of the distance between Sololo and the closest towns, it will be necessary to organize transport and employ local labour after the foundations are built, to put the tanks in position. The local plumber will be able to fit the necessary pipes from the roof to the tank and to fit the filters.