Clean Water - Underground Tank
Access to clean water is a huge problem in the Mogotio district. There are two rivers in this area, one of which is seasonal (in times of drought the rivers are dry such as we experienced in 2016 & 2017). Both rivers are used for multiple purposes; livestock drink from them, people use them for bathing, washing clothes, and as the main source of drinking water. Because of this, waterborne diseases are widespread in Mogotio. Most people suffer from diarrhea many times per month, and from typhoid or dysentery at least once a year. Treating these infections is both time-consuming (as we well know from the illnesses we treat at our medical centre) and costly (due to loss of income while sick). This in turn affects the local economy.
Having initially considered constructing a borehole to access fresh water, the cost was found to be prohibitive and the risk of the water being salinated (and therefore unusable) was too high. With rainwater being the most easily accessible form of clean water, we decided that rainwater harvesting would form the basis of our solution to the clean water problem.
In 2011 and 2018 we implemented programs to provide local households with water tanks in order to allow them to harvest rainwater. You can read about this project here. This project was extremely successful and beneficial for the participants and their families, but it was nonetheless addressing the water issue only on a small scale. We have been eager, since then, to introduce a larger-scale solution.
In January 2017, having secured part funding from the Irish Embassy in Kenya we commenced construction of a 300,000 litre underground water tank. The construction was an extremely difficult process for the following reasons:
- Severe heat and drought conditions in 2017 meant that we had to buy and transport in water to mix the cement
- All work had to be done by hand because there is no electricity in the area
However, despite such difficulties, we are very pleased to report that by 31st July 2017 we finalised the construction of the tank. Thankfully, after months of drought, it poured rain and filled the tank to half its capacity (150,000 litres!).
As well as constructing the tank itself, a lot of other work was also necessary:
- Our 2 poly-tunnels (used in our drip irrigation program) had to be collapsed during the construction of the tank and reconstructed then after its completion.
- Transportation of all materials onto the site (stone, sand, cement, steel rods, timber & gutters)
- Fitting of new gutters to all buildings to pipe water into the new tank.
In order to allow community access to this clean water, a water kiosk was constructed at the perimeter of our farm. An overhead tank was installed and a filtration system fitted in order to ensure that the water being dispensed is of the highest quality.
This water is now available for sale to the local community at a nominal cost of five shillings (5 cent) for twenty litres. As with all our projects it is our belief that we should not provide such a service for free because:
- It can lead to aid dependency
- Water is a valuable asset in this area and should be used responsibly - if it were to be provided for free then there is a risk that it would be wasted.
We acknowledge with grateful thanks the funding that made this project possible:
- 45% from the Irish Embassy in Kenya
- 55% from the donor network of Development Pamoja Ltd