Rabondo Kenya Trip, June 2004

What we did…

What we did not do…

What we could do in the future…

Participating Student List – UNR Hydrology Grad Students

  · Justin Bartlett

  · Brooke Batey Gilliam

  · Michael Meinert

  · Gitane Royce

  · Heather Segale


  · Cathy Fitzgerald

  · Ron Petersen

Completed Project Tasks

The SAIWI trip to Rabondo, Kenya was successful in following through with nearly every component of the proposed project plan.

Inventory and Delivery of School Supplies 

All five SAIWI members transported one additional 70-pound box in addition to filling our individual luggage up to the 70-pound limit. We delivered books, school supplies and microscopes to the Rabondo Primary School and St. Timon Secondary School. A detailed inventory of all materials received was made by Luke Oyoo, Chairman of the Water Committee. Teacher and administrator requests included soccer balls, badminton sets, other balls, games for handicapped children, table tennis, and any books. Special requests included a mimeograph machine, typewriter and chalkboard resurfacing paint. Luke Oyoo, Chairman of the Water Committee, also requested additional books to start a public library.

Our original goal of providing classroom sets of textbooks was unrealized since the logistics of transportation put it out of reach. Instead, samples texts of science, math, geography and English were provided. We are currently collecting classroom sets of these texts, storing them until a suitable container is found, and delivery can be arranged. In addition, we are in the process of obtaining a classroom set of 20 microscopes with slides and cover slips to be shipped over as well. Electricity is scheduled to arrive soon in Rabondo, and computers and printers will one day be important to staff and students, however, at this time we feel that manual mimeograph machines would be the most efficient method of copying material. Therefore, we will attempt to obtain funding for two or more manual or electric typewriters and two mimeograph machines to be bought in Nairobi and delivered to the primary and secondary school.


Prior to leaving for Kenya, three group members met with a non-profit organization based in Reno called the Malaria Solution Foundation. The organization distributes a mineral dietary supplement that has been shown to cure malaria. We agreed to take the supplement to Rabondo and return with results. Due to Kenyan law, however, neither the dispensary nor we could distribute the medicine without permission from health officials. Three bottles were left with Moses Ojwang, the community health nurse in Rabondo. We discussed with him how to prepare and administer the supplement using vinegar and diluting with fruit juice. He promised to take the medicine to Sare-Awendo where it could be put through clinical trials and approved for use.

We also delivered to the dispensary a microscope with slides, cover slips, and sample droppers, a current edition of the rural health manual “Where There is No Doctor,” and the reference book “Ambulatory Medicine.”

A new clinic is currently under construction in Rabondo that will be staffed with a nurse and will have the capability to diagnose and treat a much larger array of illness and injury. Needs for the new clinic include medical supplies, medicines, and funding.

Water Hygiene Education

A water hygiene education program based on the Lifewater “Water Hygiene” training was conducted 14 times and shared with approximately 823 people in Rabondo. The training included topics such as basic information about germs, disease transmission, transmission pathways, and blocking behaviors. To start, diseases common to the area were determined using a method called “Nurse Tanaka” where participants are asked to describe the ailments afflicting individuals depicted in various conditions on handouts. Once these diseases are determined (i.e. malaria, cholera, typhoid, diarrhea), the causes of each disease can be discussed and addressed. Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) is described, the recipe is covered and its uses described.

The training continues with basic information about how fecal bacteria can be transmitted and cause disease. Inadequate sanitation facilities, dirty hands, and flies can all be pathways for disease transmission. Blocking behaviors that can block the transmission of disease and improve sanitation are discussed, including washing hands, washing cooking utensils, covering food, building latrines, etc. Ways to address “germs” (bacteria, protozoa, parasites) in water supplies include boiling water, the 3-pot method, chlorine and solar disinfection.

In the first session, a women’s group of nine attendees was convened. According to community members, the information from the training was “spreading like wildfire” and the second training had 23 adult attendees (including one male attendee). The information was very well received with many questions generated. Several of the women who attended the first session were trained as trainers and during the second session, they helped to lead the course. The handouts from Lifewater were shared.




Number of Participants

June 8, 2004

Women’s Group


June 10, 2004

Women’s Group & 1 Male


June 10, 2004

Primary School Teachers


June 11, 2004

Primary Grade 8

700 (estimated total primary school students)

June 11, 2004

Primary Grade 7

June 11, 2004

Primary Grade 6

June 11, 2004

Primary Grade 5

June 14, 2004

Primary Grade 4

June 14, 2004

Primary Grade 3

June 14, 2004

Primary Grade 2

June 14, 2004

Primary Grade 1

June 15, 2004

Secondary Form 2

 40 (estimated)

June 15, 2004

Secondary Form 1

 40 (estimated)

June ##, 2004

Women’s Group



14 Training Sessions

823 Participants


A smaller group of four women requested an additional training to include information on malaria, HIV/AIDS, disease transmission, rainwater harvesting, well contamination, and well-drilling depths.

In the future, it would be worthwhile to provide additional information on malaria, specific disease symptoms, microbiology of diseases-causing bacteria (recognizing specific organisms within the water), Micro Loans / Micro Credit, HIV/AIDS transmission, to name a few.

School-based Education – Primary

On our first full day in Rabondo, we were introduced to grades 1 through 8 at the Rabondo Primary School. During a meeting with the assistant principal and several of the teachers, we made a commitment to teach Hygiene Education, Math, and Science to each grade level. One 1.5-hour hygiene class and one 45 minute class in Math and in English were taught to each grade level. Grades 5 through 8 were somewhat fluent in English, and teaching methods such as addressing questions to the class and drawing concepts on the blackboard were well received. Grades 1 through 4 were taught with the subject teacher translating. Teaching was time consuming, but valuable.

The student drama club made a presentation of five original poems and two original plays. Topics consisted of family relations, public transportation, and AIDS. Making a small donation to the club was discussed.

Rabondo Primary School: approximately 700 students

June 11, 2004: Grades 5, 6, 7 and 8

June 14, 2004: Grades 1, 2, 3 and 4

School-based Education - Secondary

St. Timon Secondary School is a state-run institution with approximately 150 students designed to educate the most underprivileged secondary students in the Rabondo area. Forms 1 through 3 (which are approximately equivalent to grades 9 through 11 in the U.S. system) are taught in a facility presently under construction with few teaching materials available to teachers. Since the school is relatively new, Form 4 will be represented beginning next year when the Form 3 students move on.

We had no contact with the school before our arrival, so we were not sure what role we could play there. Nevertheless, we brought lesson plans that were generally water-focused and thought to be relevant and of interest to the students. These lessons included instruction in water chemistry, ground and surface water, water-well drilling (especially the well we were drilling), geophysics, environment and ecology. Upon meeting with the principal and faculty, we found that due to teacher shortages in state-run schools, students were often without a teacher for large portions of their day. Consequently, we were given free rein to teach whatever and whenever we wanted. So, in addition to the above lessons, some of us found ourselves teaching math, physics and English. Gitane even managed to conduct field trips to the drill site so students could get a first-hand look at the drilling process. All but Form 4 were able to see work in progress since we were having engine trouble at the time.

Technician Course on Well Function and Groundwater

Although the local technicians had experience drilling with the LS-100, it was pointed out to us that many aspects of groundwater, well drilling and the rig itself remained unclear. Therefore, a one-session lesson was conducted with the well technicians at the secondary school. In attendance were four male and two female technicians. Topics discussed included:

                Abundance relative to surface water
                Water chemistry and characteristics
                 Flow patterns
        Confined and unconfined aquifer characteristics

Well-drilling with the LS-100
         LS-100 drill rig
                 Parts and their function
                Operation and the various problems that    may occur
                Betonies mud, the mud pit, the mud pump and function of each

Well-finishing and sealing
        Gravel pack
        Sanitary cement seal

General characteristics of a geophysical survey
        Why we drill where we do
        What it does and does not tell us                        

In addition, a period of time was allotted for technician questions, of which there were many.

The discussion was fairly well received by the technicians, and it would be worthwhile to provide some element of technician training during each subsequent SAIWI visit. Similar training was not provided to community leaders or secondary and primary school staff as proposed. This should be an objective for next time.

In addition, water hygiene lessons were presented to Forms 1 and 2 by Heather and Brooke. Since drilling required a maximum of perhaps five technicians on the site, and the local technicians were always available, we spent a great deal of our non-drilling time teaching at the high school. In all, SAIWI members taught lessons at the secondary school for a total of approximately 30 hours.

Water Testing

Hand-dug well (completed by CARE International 20 years prior) tested positive (H2S presence/absence test) for bacteria contamination. Additionally, locals reported they were pumping termites out of the well. The seal must have been broken in order for this to be the case.

The well needs to be decontaminated and the broken cement seal repaired. Upon discussion with Lifewater personnel, the repair of this well is within the scope of work that SAIWI could provide. SAIWI would need additional training on hand-dug well design in order for this to occur.

Geophysical Surveys

The students, along with a few members of the drill team, assisted Ron Petersen in the completion of eight geophysical surveys of proposed well sites. More specifically, the group used a simple resistivity meter to try to ascertain the subsurface composition of each of these sites, which were proposed by the residents to Rabondo’s water committee. As of this writing, most of the data have not been analyzed, but two transects were analyzed by Ron, who suggested that those sites have conditions that may be favorable to drilling with the LS-100. A majority of the proposed sites, the group determined, would probably be highly unfavorable to drilling, due to a various reasons including being positioned atop a topographic high point, presence of large cobbles at the surface, and the presence of a nearby bedrock outcrop. It remains to be seen whether the geophysical data corroborates these observations, but all of this information will be analyzed and considered in future drilling decisions. However, the locations that cannot be drilled using the LS-100 drill rig, can be provided with clean water by installing hand-dug wells with hand pumps.

Well Drilling

The students were able to assist Cathy Fitzgerald and the Rabondo water technicians to successfully drill a borehole and complete a significant portion of the construction of a new well for drinking water. Numerous hurdles needed to be overcome to complete this work. The drill rig that the team had intended to use, a Lifewater International owned LS-100 housed in Megwarra, would not be released to the team for use. The engine of the second Lifewater rig, housed in Rabondo, turned out to have a faulty carburetor. Finally, a third engine rented in the city of Kisumu proved to be faulty as well.

Battling engine problems, the drill team spent more than a week drilling initially through very soft rock and later through fine and moderately sized gravel until finally the faulty engines would not allow them to proceed further. With four days remaining, the carburetor on the engine of the Rabondo Lifewater rig was replaced, allowing the drillers to proceed to greater depth.

Using the repaired drill rig, the team was able to drill to a depth of 32 feet, which was more than adequate for the new well. Cuttings revealed optimal aquifer material, gravel of increasing size with depth, beginning at roughly fourteen feet below the surface. The water table was measured to be at seven feet, and the well was recharging so quickly that it could not be bailed down more than a few feet. Four inch PVC casing was set to the bottom of the borehole, the annular space was packed with gravel, and a cement surface seal was put into place. On the final evening in Rabondo, an India Mark II hand-pump was temporarily set and successfully operated. The students left before the well was fully developed, but the only steps that remained were the creation of a concrete stand for the pump, and to reset the pump once the stand had been completed.

The chlorine bleach requirement to disinfect and fully develop the well was calculated as approximately 375 mL of chlorine bleach for the 32 foot depth and 6-inch diameter borehole. This information was passed on to the well technicians after we had left and it is assumed that the disinfection was carried out. Future projects should include testing the water from this well along with inspection of the final pump and surface seal.

Rain Catchment System at St. Timon Secondary School

Materials for a rain catchment system on the laboratory building at St. Timon Secondary School were provided by Lifewater. These included metal gutters, collectors, flashing, angle-iron supports, and a large 3000-gallon canvas "bladder" water container. SAIWI members consulted with Mr. Oyoo and water technicians on design characteristics; in particular, the gutter and flashing placement and the construction of the water container platform. Local contractors and laborers were hired to attach the gutters and flashing and to dig holes for the platform supports. SAIWI members and water technicians cooperated in the acquisition and delivery of all metal and platform materials, including buying and loading/unloading lumber, cutting lengths for the supports from downed tree trunks, and hauling them to the site. We had intended to assist in the construction of the platform itself, but time did not allow it. Therefore, we were unable to see the completion of the rain catchment system.

Future work would include a more comprehensive rain catchment system on the classroom and administration buildings at the school, as well as the use of large plastic water containers in place of the canvas bladder. Mr. Oyoo and school leaders were not familiar with such a storage container and were reluctant to leave the bladder in place - especially during the dry season when it would not be needed - for fear of it being damaged by the sun or by vandals. As Lifewater has provided the materials for rain catchment in the past, SAIWI labor and planning may be our best contribution in the future.

Future Needs:

· Additional wells, water testing and water hygiene education would be worthwhile. It may be more cost-effective and realistic to dig hand-dug wells. A nearby NGO in Kisumu is available for training in this method. The forms for concrete rings would need to be purchased along with any other equipment that would be necessary for this type of project.
· Nursing students could provide medical care and assistance
· Business education could be provided to local business groups.
· Micro Loans / Micro Credit would provide local Kenyan’s an opportunity to start a small business.

For a pdf with more about this project visit: Into Africa: Students Provide Clean Water to Rabonda, Kenya, by Justin Bartlett