The first few months of the year are always busy as they follow the festive period when we raise the majority of our income. This year has been no exception.
On the building project front, we are currently planning or implementing, or have recently completed, over 40 individual projects, many over the last month as our team took advantage of a three-week window whilst schools were closed for the holidays to crack on with work that would otherwise cause disruption to school life. This work includes renovations to and construction of classrooms and other key facilities, electrical and rainwater harvesting installations, and important landscaping works. At Kiteghe Primary School we have just undertaken the latest phase of upgrade works on the eight classrooms and staffroom/office block which made up the original school as we found it back in 2008. Although these parts had only been constructed in 2005/06 they were beginning to look tired and rough around the edges, so we are comprehensively upgrading them with new roofing sheets, new steel casement windows and doors and the addition of ceilings, to bring them up to the same standard as those we have built elsewhere. But we can only undertake these works in phases when children are not in school which gives us limited time and has necessitated the deployment of an enormous building team – at the peak of the works we have had nearly 40 builders and labourers on site. These works will resume in the next holidays in August and we expect to have the completed by the end of the year.In the meantime we have plans to undertake some major hard and soft landscaping works including the creation of an assembly ground area and pathways.
In line with our objective to ensure that our partner schools are fully equipped with power and lighting in all key facilities we have also recently invested £2,500 in works to extend power to 24 classrooms, including at Kisimenyi, where the recent extension of a grid power supply to the school and wider community has made this work possible.
Staying at Kisimenyi, we are in the closing stages of construction of a dining hall which, for now, is the final element of our redevelopment works at the school which began way back in 2010 and brings our total investment in infrastructure at the school to well beyond £250,000.
Elsewhere, we have started planning works for the extensive redevelopment of our eighth partner school at Mkamenyi Primary, which we aim to begin in early 2019. This will likely be our largest, single phase project to date and will involve the complete remodelling and expansion of the school – we will have to work around parts of the existing school which we will ultimately demolish. We have agreed a layout plan for the new school with the school administration and our engineer is now busy preparing the architectural drawings. Meanwhile, parents have already started clearing the site and collecting locally available building aggregates.
After an incredibly dry 2017, the current rainy season has not disappointed – a report from the Tsavo Trust conservation charity indicates that the wider Tsavo area (of which Kasigau is a part) received as much rain in March as in the whole of last year! Rainwater storage tanks are being regularly topped-up and in many cases have been overflowing. To avoid wasting this precious resource and to boost our partner schools’ resilience to future droughts we have been working to further increase storage capacity. By the end of this month we will have installed an additional 50,000 litres of storage across three schools so far this year. At Ngambenyi, our most recent partner school, there is now approximately 400 litres of storage capacity for each of the schools 120 pupils.
Even as the on-going rains bring the prospect of a good harvest for the community we continue to deliver our lunch programme, which is now entering its fourth year providing a daily meal to every pupil across our partner schools. Thankfully food prices have fallen back towards pre-drought levels in recent months and we anticipate a much less challenging year in 2018 than last.
For a full update on our ‘Feeding Minds’ lunch programme please read our latest project report on GlobalGiving here.