Demarcating and Fencing
The school site is located about 7km west of Lodwar town along the Lodwar-Lorugum road, towards Uganda. The 5Ha (12 acre) plot was originally purchased in February 2010 and in the months that followed, the demarcation and fencing took place. In November 2012, based on the recommendation of the school board of govenors, an additional hectare (3 acres) was added and the school fence extended accordingly.
After the initial fencing of the school plot, one of our main tasks was to clear the land for building construction. As is the case with most of the terrain in the area, the plot was covered in a thorny shrub (Prosopis juliflora), called Eterai in Turkana, which can become a tree growing to 15m. This shrub/tree, native to Central America/Mexico, was introduced into the Turkana District in the 1980’s as part of a strategy to inhibit the advancement of desertification and soil erosion. It is a very fast-growing multipurpose tree/shrub used for feed of livestock, shade, windbreak, charcoal, live fences, and firewood. Despite its valuable prospects, the shrub is jeopardizing the daily life of the Turkana by invading farmlands and rangelands, narrowing roads, and the spines attack livestock and people when they collect the pods or pass-by. Clearing the land became a time-consuming task requiring much skill, determination and stamina. Just check out the thorns and roots in the photos below and imagine what it must be like to uproot this nasty beast.
Staking out Buildings
After clearing much of the land, it was then possible to stake out the school buildings based our facility plan.
To create shade from the intense desert sun and replace the unwanted and inaccessible thorny Eterai, we planted over 100 trees on the school plot, mostly Neem trees (Azadirachta indica) native to South Asia, along with a few indigenous species. The Neem tree thrives in most parts of Kenya and is noted for its tolerance of a wide range of soils and its drought resistance. It is fast growing and typically reaches a height of 15-20m. Also dubbed Arobaini (forty) by Kenyans because it is believed to cure 40 diseases, the Neem tree is renowned for its medicinal and pesticidal properties. As a human medicine it has a vast range of uses in folk remedies, but is particularly prescribed for skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and fungal infections, typically through the inclusion of Neem Oil in cosmetics such as soaps, shampoo, balms, and creams. It can also be used in treating intestinal worms through drinking the rather bitter ‘tea’ made with the bark and/or leaves. Some claim that it also treats headlice and scabies, viruses and infertility. Neem twigs have also long been used for brushing teeth.
To protect the young saplings from the wind, intense sun, and livestock, we employed a group of Turkana women from the community who constructed a small nyumba, made with dry thorny sticks/branches tied together by palm leaf fronds, around each sapling.