Water System Improvements


In June 2022, the MEF Board approved the construction of a new waterline to the school and sent $35,000 to start construction of the pipeline. Another donor sent $11,000 directly to the school for the pipeline also. We expect construction to start in July 2022 and hopefully the pipeline will be complete when the students return from the August break in September. The cost of the pipeline is somewhat less than we originally estimated because the district engineer recommended that we tap into a large concrete community water storage tank closer to the school. The length of the pipeline was reduced to 3 km (1.9 miles).

General History & Culture

As the school enrollment has increased (185 students plus staff in 2022), our need for water has exceeded the capacity of the 1 inch pipe that supplies the school with water. Consequently, a 1.9 mile (3 km) pipeline is needed from the community reservoir to the school. The following proposal from the school describes the needed pipeline.

In Tanzania, as around the world, many girls continue to experience disadvantages in access to primary and secondary education, and the problem is particularly critical in rural, pastoralist communities. An estimated 2 million children between the ages of 7 and 13 years are out-of-school. Almost 70 per cent of children aged 14–17 years are not enrolled in secondary education while a mere 3.2 per cent are enrolled for the final two years of schooling. (UNICEF, 2021)

Equity and quality pose major challenges. Primary school-aged children from the poorest families are three times less likely to attend school than those from the wealthiest households. Furthermore, while it is estimated that 7.9 per cent of Tanzanians are living with a disability, less than 1 per cent of children in pre-primary, primary and secondary school have a disability. (UNICEF, 2021)

Access to pre-primary education is very low and the poor quality of education dampens children’s prospects of a productive future. The pupil-to-qualified-teacher ratio at pre-primary level is 131:1. This ratio is 169:1 in public pre-primary school compared to 24:1 in private schools. Most children, especially those in rural areas, enter primary school poorly prepared due to the lack of access to early stimulation, poor nutrition and the low quality of pre-primary education. (UNICEF, 2021)

School-going children often do not achieve foundational learning outcomes such as literacy, numeracy and life skills, which determine future performance. Results from the 2014 primary school leaving examinations in mainland Tanzania revealed that only 8 per cent of Grade 2 pupils could read properly, only 8 per cent could add or subtract, and less than 0.1 per cent showed high levels of life skills (academic grit, self-confidence, problem-solving). (UNICEF, 2021)

Girls, the poorest children, children with disabilities and children living in underserved communities are most vulnerable to dropping out of school or never going to school. Early marriage and pregnancy keep girls out of school. Adolescent pregnancy led to almost 3,700 girls dropping out of primary and secondary education in 2016. More than one third of all girls are married by the age of 18, but girls from poor families are twice as likely to be married early than girls from wealthier homes. (UNICEF, 2021)

The situation is generally worse for rural communities, and among the Maasai living in rural district in Arusha and Manyara regions in particular, girls continue to be disadvantaged relative to boys in school. Illiteracy rate among the Maasai community is currently at 80%. At present, the primary school enrollment percentage for the Maasai children is between 20%-30% and out of these only one third are girls. The rate of student dropouts prior to completing the standard seven grades is alarming at the rate of 60%. Approximately 74% of girl students are attending primary school by the final grade. However, only 18% of these 74% who have remained in school will proceed to the secondary level. (reference?).

Among the reasons which contribute to school dropout rates are poverty, lack of support from parents, household & farming chores and early forced marriage among girls. Also, there is a serious shortage of learning facilities and buildings, textbooks & supplies, teachers, staff, and other scholastic materials. Currently, some classes are often held under trees which are remotely situated with poor and difficult communication that discourages many parents to let their children attend school.

Engaruka Community Initiative Organization (ENCO) with support from the community and other partners established the English Medium Primary School (EEMPS) at Engaruka village with its first class in 2017. The mission of the school is to bridge the education access gap among the most vulnerable of the Maasai community in the Monduli and adjacent districts. The school strives to provide the best education for the pastoralist Maasai children, to lay the best foundation for education excellence, competitiveness and performance among vulnerable Maasai children. The school and its approach are very unique and forward thinking with its one of a kind facility and managed by ENCO.

The Engaruka English Medium Primary School commenced pre-school classes in February 2018 enrolling about 48 girls and boys from very remote villages of Monduli, Longido and Ngorongoro districts. Currently the school has pre-school and

1st to 4th grade classes and an enrollment of 144 students with 20+ teachers and staff. The school serves poor disadvantaged Maasai youth in Engaruka and surrounding districts.


The EEMPS obtains water from one of the 1 inch Engaruka village water pipelines, which is shared by many families. The village obtains water from the Engaruka River high above village. Water is collected behind a very small dam on the river and then flows through a system of pipes to different parts of the village and surrounding areas for approximately 12,000 residents.

Community dam on Engaruka River

Most residents have a standpipe within 1 km of their homes. Surface water passing over the dam is used to irrigate fields in the area and the village has a full-time irrigation manager to distribute water to different areas on a regular schedule. The 1 inch pipeline at the school provides approximately 4 liters per minute or 1.06 gallons per minute when it is operating correctly. Unfortunately, much of the time, there is little or no water because of pipeline problems or wastage by upstream users who share the pipeline.

EEMPS needs an improved water supply system because the current system is unreliable and the school does not have adequate water of the personal hygiene of the students and staff and for cooking, washing and cleaning. The village government recognizes this problem and has given the school permission to install a pipeline from the village dam to the school to improve the school’s water supply situation.

The school has two existing 5000 liter (2640 gal) storage tanks. The 2 tanks are located 135 meters (443 ft) from the dining hall. The water is of fairly good quality as it comes from above the populated area of Engaruka but it is not truly potable and someday it should be treated. Currently it is necessary for the school to constantly boil the water for safe drinking and cooking purposes but the children drink untreated water constantly.

Proposed Water Requirements for the School:

  • Phase I Proposed School population of students & staff – 300
  • Proposed target consumption & needs for Phase I (water for drinking, bathing, cleaning, washing clother, etc. Does not include needed water to irrigate school grounds and gardens and for school livestock. 
    • 100 liters per day per person – 26.5 gallons/day/person
    • 30,000 liters per day – 8,000 gallons/day
    • 21 liters per minute – 5.5 gallons per minute

Proposed Water System:

EEMPS has obtained permission from the local government to install a new buried pipeline from the Engaruka River to the school. The proposed route was surveyed by MEF engineers in May 2018. The pipeline would be 3.6 km in length and would have a fall of approximately 124 meters. Water pressure would be adequate for water to flow into the school’s elevated water tanks. The preliminary estimated cost of the pipeline (including excavation, labor, materials, transportation and VAT) is attached in the Appendix.

A new pipeline would supply approximately 106 liters/minute of water to the school, meeting the school’s domestic water needs with sufficient additional water for livestock and irrigating gardens.

New Proposed Pipeline & Storage:

  • Install 1,400 m of 3- and 2-inch galvanized steel pipe from the village dam on the surface through the rocky area of the Engaruka Ruins. (PHASE I)
  • Install 2,200 m of 2-inch buried HDPE pipe from the galvanized pipe to the school storage tank(s). (PHASE I)
  • Construct a 250,000 liter (66,000 gal) underground water storage reservoir at the school as a backup water supply. (PHASE II)

NOTE: In the future, the school will need a water treatment system to provide safe potable water. The estimated cost of a slow sand filter to treat the potable portion of the school’s water is less than $20,000. When treatment is provided, there will also be a need for electric pumps to pump water from the underground storage tank to the slow sand filter and from the slow sand filter to elevated storage tanks supplying potable water to the school. Non-potable water used for irrigation, livestock and other non-potable water uses will come directly from the pipeline, bypassing the underground storage tank and the slow sand filter. A separate piping system will be needed for the non-potable water.

The overall objective of this project is:  Contribute to improved access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation among the disadvantaged Maasai children and staff at EEMPS.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Improved access to clean and safe water for EEMPS students.
  • Increased knowledge, attitudes and adoption of good hygiene practices.
  • Improved health through reduced prevalence of waterborne diseases.
  • Improved water resources management at the school.
  • Increased use of improved sanitary facilities (water flush toilets).
  • The monitoring and evaluation reports will be disseminated to all implementing partners and donors. The final evaluation will determine the impact results of the project. In addition, a small-scale rapid assessment and participatory appraisal will be done at the end of the project. This will help to measure outcomes and impacts of the interventions and clarify whether costs for the activity are justifiable. The report from this will draw lessons for improving the design and management of future activities and will inform decisions on whether to expand, modify or eliminate the project’s interventions.
Figure 1. Surveyed waterline route overlaid on Google Earth