A productive day and a long one as we construct Gabion Baskets for the rainwater harvesting system at KACH in Kenya
A day of very hard work in spite of it being a public holiday throughout Kenya. Because it was a holiday, Festus, a young person who spent his childhood here at KACH and who is now studying plumbing at the local college was able to join us. He is in his first term at college, so this practical experience will be invaluable.
Because of the holiday, the children are also home from school. Boniface intends to be an engineer, at first he seemed very shy but Hattie suggested he got involved in the work and he joined in with increasing enthusiasm and confidence.
Yesterday a concrete platform was built for the smaller water tank to collect rainwater outside the kitchen, we are waiting for the concrete to set.
To save time and quite a lot of money we will create the other larger platforms using ‘gabion baskets’ – that is baskets constructed from strong metal mesh filled with large stones. These are very strong and for everyone here to learn such a simple construction technique that, apart from the wire mesh uses free materials will be very useful for the future.
However, as we created a flat area for the gabion baskets – where previously there had been heavy foot traffic to the washing lines, what we thought was a protective tube around a cable bringing electricity from the solar panels into the house, turned out to be a water pipe. We discovered this when it burst! Hattie observed two things; that these things always happen on public holidays when the shops are shut making it very difficult to obtain the necessary items to fix the problem and also that although a timewasting nuisance, it is better this happened now than when the pipe was under the rainwater collection tank. That really would have been a big problem.
The water running from the pipe was paid for water from Meru, this is the worst source, as the Meru water is pay-as-you-use.
The water was turned off to stop it quickly and a solution had to be found to connect pipes of metal and two different kinds of plastic – the solvent weld only worked on one kind of plastic and the plastic pipe melting machine only worked on the other! None of the available solutions worked on the metal pipe.
It took all morning, so much for a quick solution – we thought.
In the end after many phone calls by Joy, a suitable valve was located and the correct pieces of plastic pipe were found and the leak was finally fixed.
It was time for lunch and no movement forward in the work. Plenty of lessons though for Festus.
After lunch everyone set about building the gabion baskets. Four were needed for the big tanks to stand on securely. The first of the four took ages, the second and third were much quicker and also better looking.
Boniface worked hard all day and towards the end of the day some of the other children helped us carry stones (which are plentiful here) to fill all the baskets; Asante sana.
By the time the fourth and final basket for this tank was being built many of our helpers had left for tea. Hattie was making it on her own with only my help. Her fingers were tired and she didn’t have the strength to finish it. We decided to call it a day.
But then, along came John, filled with renewed vigour he finished the basket off and everyone helped fill it and level it with sand.
It was dark by the time we were done and we worked in torchlight.
Filthy from our labours we decided to shower before our meal and went to bed early.
What we are realising as we carry out this work is how easy it will be to extend it. Joy is fully involved and therefore knows exactly how the system works, even knows how it has developed so far. We intend to continue mentoring others so that they too can begin to gain control of their water supply through reclaiming rainwater