Engineers Without Borders at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering has begun a new project in Lwala-Nyakongo, Kenya- a small community with low income housing and an unreliable water supply. This project will improve food security and the water supply.


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Water Filtration & Food Security

As a non-profit humanitarian organization, the Florida State University-FAMU Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB)-USA, strives to serve environmental sustainability, and community health for global countries. In the upcoming years, we will be working on a new project that focuses on a small community in Kenya called Lwala-Nyakongo. With food securities, poor irrigation systems/agricultural productivity, and an inaccessibility to clean water supply, the community of Lwala-Nyakongo is in need of service. The Lwala-Nyakongo community is located in Homa Bay County, Rachuonyo North Sub-County Region, Kenya, with an estimated population of 3700. Located by the western edge of the Great East African Rift Valley (0.3623° South, 34.6172° East), the community resides near Lake Victoria, which is Africa's largest lake and the primary source of the Nile River. It is also in close proximity to a tectonic plate, resulting in potentially high geothermal and volcanic activity with minimal direct repercussions to the community. Lwala-Nyakongo is approximately five hours away by car from Nairobi and one hour away from the nearest city, Kisumu. 
      Leonard Bolo Ondiek is the primary community contact and the chairman of Awach Kibuon Integrated Health and Livelihood Services Development (AKIHLSED), the Community-Based Organization (CBO) at the forefront of this project. James Mboya is the CEO and primary contact of Awach Kibuou Water Resources Users Association (Awach Kibuou-WRUA), which plans to work alongside AKIHLSED to fulfill the project. Awach Kobuou-WRUA has been collaborating with Lwala-Nyakongo for more than five years and has previously established communication lines and provided funding for developmental projects (ex. shallow wells). The CBO has a working relationship with Kimira Oluch Small Holders Farm Improvement Project (KOSFIP) for technical consultation on pre-existing crop irrigation systems. Approximately 5% of the initial costs of production will be provided by the community and partnering organizations while the remainder of the costs will be funded by the FAMU-FSU Chapter through grants, donations, and fundraising efforts. Upon completion of the project, the community (and associated organizations) will be responsible for all maintenance and repair costs. Financial management of the project funded by the community is detailed in the initial application submitted to EWB-USA.
     The community leaders outlined several concerns, varying from infrastructure to healthcare facilitation; of these concerns, food security and clean, sustainable water supply are most urgent. The other listed priorities are highly significant to the community’s long-term growth and maintained safety (ex., sanitation and transportation). To effectively address all the listed concerns, the FAMU-FSU Chapter’s initial efforts will focus on developing and providing a consistent and safe water supply, a component necessary for sustaining life, maintaining proper sanitization and fueling agriculture production. An additional area of concernment is the extreme weather patterns that tend to destroy locally grown crops, which function as the community’s main food source (ex., maize, sorghum, cassava, etc.). Most notably, severe droughts arise during the dry season and flash floods occur during the wet season, damaging infrastructure and drowning plants. Providing access to a sustainable water supply can reduce the crop death experienced during dry seasons, leading to increased production and food security. Improved irrigation drainage and management can reduce the amount of flooding, in turn, potentially reducing infrastructure damage and wasted water. The established irrigation system in the community was provided and implemented by KOSFIP but has suffered from inconsistent leadership, resulting in construction delays. Enhancing the existing agriculture system is the most viable option for sustainably providing for the community since most underground waters are salinized and surface waters are equally unsafe. A further benefit of improving the current system and increasing production includes prospective socioeconomic gain from new trade relations with neighboring communities.
     The current source of drinking water is derived from creeks, lakes, hand-dug wells and rainwater collection. Though water is often not treated before consumption, chlorination and boiling are infrequently utilized to purify water on an individual basis. The community receives electricity through solar panels and an electrical grid. The community and partnering organizations have previously built two shallow wells and two boreholes. If an effective desalination system is introduced, these current sources of water will be more than sufficient to sustain the community.
     The established irrigation system has failed due to many factors, including a lack of hands-on training, reliable technical guidance, governmental aid, and financial/marketing accessibility. The potential solutions for the community’s needs will be thoroughly investigated throughout the assessment phase. One preliminary step includes developing a thorough understanding of the established irrigation system for current agricultural production with consideration of the associated processing parameters for crop growth. Another necessary introductory step is understanding the established water infrastructure, specifically the collection, storage, and distribution parameters.

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Questions? We Can Help!

Project Contact

Charles Brenner
cab17j@fsu.edu

SPARKFSU Unit Representative

Laurie Herring
lherring@fsu.edu

Technical Issues

SPARKFSU Support Staff
spark@foundation.fsu.edu