RWHS Installation at Nuffield School to Enable Agriculture (CFLI Supported Project)


CFLI visits to Nuffield School

"Rainwater Harvesting Systems Installation at the Nuffield School for the Deaf and Blind to Enable Agriculture and Agriculture Based Education for Deaf and Blind Youth" is a two year (2023/2024) project funded by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).  The project is a collaborative project by LetUsHelpNow Foundation and the Nuffield School for the Deaf and Blind in Jaffna to design and install a rainwater harvesting system at the school. The water collected will be used to irrigate a school farm, which will provide education and employment opportunities for the deaf and blind community in the region.

The Problem
The project seeks to address three interrelated problems: lack of usable water, food insecurity, and lack of educational and employment prospects for deaf students.

The Nuffield school location has salty ground water for most of the seasons, which cannot be used for drinking or farming. There are no other major sources of water. The land is not suitable for traditional farming due to the limestone geology of the land. However, the school does have 14-acres of land that can be used for farming, and has 17 buildings on its property.

The food crisis has stretched the limited operational food budget of the school. Further, the deaf and blind students have limited educational and vocational training prospects. To meet these needs, the school would like to undertake raised-bed farming. It will provide food and enable agriculture based vocational training. A major limiting factor identified to undertake farming is water.

The Solution

Presentation to CFLI

Harvesting and optimizing the use of rainwater is a solution to provide water for farming, help conserve the groundwater and save energy. A major goal of this project is to implement a large-scale rainwater harvesting system (13 buildings) at the school. Local suppliers/supplies, technicians, the deaf students, and the school’s staff will be engaged in building the system. The know-how will be documented and actively shared with other care homes, educational institutions and the wider community.

Enabled by the availability of water, the current raised-bed gardening initiative at the school will be expanded several fold. Further, suitable plants and trees will be planted. The food produced will be used by the school, and will help the school to mitigate the effects of the food crisis in Sri Lanka. The rain water harvesting system as well as the farm will be used by the school to develop an agriculture based vocational training program, and possibly provide some employment opportunities at the farm as well. Currently, the deaf students do not have such opportunities.

In the long term, the rainwater harvesting system, the farm, and the agriculture based training can be a model to overcome environmental, economical and social challenges to meet the needs of a community.

Beneficiaries and Participants

Nuffield School Map

The primary beneficiaries of this project is the Nuffield School for the Deaf and Blind community.  The school currently serves 117 deaf students, and 3 blind students with additional students expected to join from the Eastern province. Students reside at the school. The students are of mixed gendered, with about equal representation.

The school has 52 staff, including 7 deaf and 3 blind staff members. The staff are mixed gendered with about equal representation.

The local carpenters/technicians and suppliers will benefit during the implementation of this project. We do not have gender-disaggregated data about them at this time.

The wider community will also benefit through knowledge sharing.