In many African countries, clean water is still a luxury. Wars are fought over it, families are uprooted for it, and entire communities perish without it. The scarcity of freshwater has plagued nations in Africa and around the world for centuries. Now, non-profit group PITCHAfrica is fixing the problem with a novel combination of sport and design. Part of a 10-acre Waterbank Campus comprised of 7 water-harvesting buildings, the soccer (or “futsal”) stadium is capable of hosting up to 1500 people, helping to save, educate and unite communities that are most in need.
PITCHAfrica describes their approach, which provides a solution to anticipated global aquifer depletion
In Kenya there is 7 times the amount of rain falling than is needed by the population. Rain is an astoundingly underused resource and one that asks that we change our unsustainable relationship to water to a balanced one. Waterbank buildings are designed to transform our relationship to water. ‘Business as usual’ advocates are extracting water from underground, from non-renewable aquifers AND building schools that deflect rather than catch and store rainwater easily. We reverse this, bringing the water to the schools center to show how this resource can empower whole communities and lead to systemic change. Everyone can have clean water.
These Rainwater Harvesting Street Football Stadiums are multifunctional in their design. The stadium bleachers incorporate reservoirs that hold 1 to 3 million gallons of water, but also classrooms, public latrines, a health clinic, and facilities for the development of agriculture in the surrounding area. PITCHAfrica has already implemented one of these stadiums as part of a larger campus in Laikipia, Kenya. The Laikipia campus is comprised of three other building types including canteens, latrines, and dormitories, all of which are capable of harvesting and storing rainwater. The Laikpia stadium is home to the Samuel Eto’o Football Academy.
Jane Harrison, founder of PITCHAfrica, said “Integrating harvesting, storing and filtering of rain into school community buildings supports communities in becoming increasingly self-reliant for their water needs. This is possibly one of the greatest catalysts for change that a community can have. Bringing football into the mix brings passion, an attentive audience, bridging differences. This can make the desire to model peaceful collaboration and share knowledge about sustainable environmental practices a reality, while providing students with an environmentally engaged education, healthy food and clean water.”
To bring this project to life, PITCHAfrica, a spin-off from ATOPIA Research, is working alongside the Zeitz Foundation, a local organization. Its founder, Jochen Zeitz, describes PITCHAfrica’s approach as “an innovative approach to addressing one of Africa's most pressing problems, provision of clean drinking water; whilst providing urgently needed sport facilities. This makes it a win-win proposition, good for health and good for the environment. I'm happy to be able to support the first PITCH in Africa.” Work by the Laikipia Unity Program, a daughter organization of the Zeitz Foundation, will extend the Waterbank Campus’s resources to over 50,000 people in nearby communities.
The Laikipia campus has received funding from numerous sources, including famous footballer Samuel Eto’o. The campus’s stadium will officially be known as the Samuel Eto'o Laikipia Unity Football Academy, School and Environmental Education Centre.