Choosing our community projects

The urgent need for new schools and classrooms in Zambia means that there is always an overwhelming number of communities needing support.

We liaise with the Zambian district education authority to get a shortlist of schools which urgently need upgrading. It is a delicate process not to raise expectations and usually takes at least 12 months to identify suitable projects.

From this shortlist of schools, there are some very specific requirements that must be considered. We look at communities where:

  • there is a clear need for new classrooms
  • the Ministry of Education has committed to send qualified teachers when the project is completed (or another NGO is providing educational support)
  • the site is safe with good access and suitable raw materials close by
  • the community is well organised and is able to contribute to the project, especially collecting stones and sand
  • the location is manageable for us (we try where possible to cluster our projects)

Projects are driven by the local community. We work with them to agree the scope of the project in terms of how many classrooms are needed, and what other facilities are necessary. This usually includes school latrines, borehole and staff housing, and solar lighting is also provided where needed.

We then draw up detailed technical drawings based on our standard designs that follow our guidelines on sustainable construction. The project is subject to commitment from the community in terms of key elements like clearing the site, collecting stones and sand for construction etc…

Once funds have been secured, detailed budgets are prepared and a Site Agent (project manager) and contractor appointed. Project delivery and resource plans are prepared and the work begins with the recruitment of around 20 trainees from the local community. These young, unemployed men and women have the opportunity to learn new practical skills to be able to earn a living and provide for their families. They learn on projects that will directly benefit their own children, families and their community.

Finally, when the project is complete, the buildings are inspected and certified for use before being handed over to the community. Part of this process includes some basic training in preventative maintenance to help ensure that the building are looked after. The Build It team continues to monitor the structure for the next 2 – 4 years.