Citizen engagement: School Water Clubs helping girls and boys in Kenya understand water issues in their local area, across Kenya and the world

The Gro for GooD team set up three School Water Clubs in Kwale County, Kenya, to support water science education in secondary schools. This programme of school engagement was delivered with project partner Base Titanium Ltd. The research team, along with their industry partner, provided support to the teachers running the water clubs by arranging field trips and designing practical experiments to enhance One of the key aspects of supporting groundwater management is being able to cope with changing rainfall patterns. Rainwatch is a simple, open source platform which is owned and managed by National Met Personal from 15 different countries across Africa – the Rainwatch Alliance. the students’ learning experience.

The School Water Clubs involved around 120 pupils, two thirds of which were girls, who demonstrated great interest and enthusiasm for deepening their understanding of water-related issues. Many pupils were already aware of problems caused by inadequate water management – the risk of disease, time-consuming treks to waterpoints, seasonal water scarcity — and were personally motivated to find solutions to apply in their own, often groundwater-reliant, communities. The Water Clubs also allowed students to explore potential career opportunities in the water sector.

The School Water Clubs were supported by the “Water Module” – a resource pack produced by the Gro for GooD research team featuring a wide range of learning activities. The Water Module, which consists of a student booklet and educator guide, was also supported by the University Of Oxford and the Environment Inspiration Fund. It is freely available to download and widely available online through the Africa Groundwater Atlas and International Groundwater Resource Assessment Centre (IGRAC).

At the end of their first year, the School Water Clubs took part in a workshop where students presented their own research projects to local industry, government and NGOs. Highlights included an improved solar still design, which was subsequently presented at Kenya’s National Science Fair for schools; a detailed explanation of artesian wells based on email exchanges with one of the Gro for GooD project hydrogeologists; and a demonstration of the use of Moringa seed for water treatment.

Discussions with the University of Nairobi have been exploring how the Geology Students Association (NUGSA) might develop the Water Club idea more widely in Kenya. NUGSA have now established their own Water Club and are working with schools in Nairobi, Kitui and Turkana counties to schedule outreach activities that will coincide with their fieldwork. Voluntary outreach of this kind is reliant on persistent, dedicated individuals and structures. Additional funding and further development of institutional arrangements would almost certainly be required to significantly scale up the number of schools involved and increase the chances of sustaining the programme.

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