CJTF-HOA troops help repair local school's water system

19 Apr 2003 | Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

Troops from Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa recently began a project to repair the water system of the school here where there has been no running water for some time forcing school officials to buy water.

One hundred eighty children attend the facility.

According to Abdoulkader Iman Aden, the school's director, the original water piping was installed in 1973 and hasn't been maintained since 1982.

Aden went on to say, "The school hasn't had running water for many years. We've been having all of the water transported to the school by truck."

School officials are paying 100 Djiboutian francs (roughly $0.70) per 180 liters of water to have it delivered to the school. Aden estimated the personnel at the school use about 1,000 liters of water a day during the winter and about 1,600 liters during the summer.

"A while ago, some Americans came to the village and asked the chief what we really needed," explained Aden. "Of course, we told them we desperately needed running water at the school."

"Our goal is to reinstall the entire water system of the school," said project manager Marine Maj. Chuck Risio, camp assistant operations officer. "We also have a few other smaller repairs we will do there."

Once the supplies were available, Risio, of Boalsburg, Pa., and his crew, including volunteers from the village, were able to begin the project.

"When we first looked at what we needed to get done, we saw they needed to have the whole system rebuilt. Their pump was dead and the pipes had water left in them from when they were being used," recounted Risio.

At the end of the month-long project, Risio hopes to have a new pump, cistern (holding tank) and nearly 120 meters of piping installed. 

Aden commented, "We're really happy the Americans are fixing our water for us because it will help keep the kids healthy. Since we don't have running water, the kids can't wash their hands whenever they need to. I think being able to keep the children healthy will be the biggest benefit. "

Besides repairing the school's water system, the troops will also repair the children's eating area, which was damaged by a recent storm.

"We're going to repair the roof where the kids eat so they can have shade," said Risio.
"Plus we're going to fence in the area. Our hope is to make the school a better place for the kids to learn."

The volunteers also learned of another problem the whole village shares, and they hope to resolve it as well.

Army Staff Sgt. James King, CJTF-HOA engineer plans chief, said, "Right now, a lot of the villagers are dropping buckets attached to rope down into a well to get water, so we're also planning to add a hand pump which will make it a lot easier for the villages to get water."
Headquarters Marine Corps