October 16, 2009
I’m afraid to report that the Milgis ecosystem and its surrounds is yet to receive a drop of rain. The land has been bone dry since May when it only saw a very light shower receiving 5.3mm of rainfall on average compared to the long-term mean average of 19.3 mm, which was 72.6 per cent below the established threshold. Since that meagre performance of the long rains and failure of the continental rains in the plateau, the consequences are beyond unbearable. Although thankfully over the last couple of days nature has been showing its signs of rain and other areas further south have received enough to relieve a little tension; just on our return flight to Nanyuki today the weather has unmistakably transformed towards the bringing of rain.
To lighten spirits though, Latakwen is still unbelievably pumping water and is quite literally a lifeline for all the communities within the area. Members of the Swari community are more than aware of this and awaiting their new water pump with great excitement…
We had a great commencement meeting with the Swari community whereby a beautiful crowd of Swari women turned up having heard from the Milgis Scouts that this project has been funded on the basis of Women Helping Women. They proudly took front seats under the shelter of dappled acacia trees and hushed their babies who lay swathed in cloth in their arms and listened intently to the speakers of the meeting outside the Swari church. Introductions were made and the meeting commenced with the traditional Samburu blessing lead by one of the Elders. The Swari Chief began by showing the communities appreciation to the Milgis Trust for connecting them with the Voss Foundation and the women from around the world who are kind enough to support this project and to bless the community with such kindness, to which the meeting then burst into applause.
Despite the drought and the weakness of the Swari community, they showed little fear in the mighty task of digging the 40 feet kisima (well) and the 5,000 metre trench for the laying of the water pipeline. It was even decided upon in the meeting that the women would also get fully involved in the job, which they bravely agreed to.
We are hoping the community will commence the pipeline construction by the end of next week and they are confident in a speedy completion within two weeks, but if heavy rains are to arrive within that period work will inevitably come to a temporary standstill. The weather in northern Kenya is the manager of all activity and the Samburu people will follow its phases. Even if so, we are very happy with all progress so far and are comfortably within our desired schedule….
P.S. Last night we received a report on the radio that a few hours after we flew down to Nanyuki from the Milgis the most amazing rains fell over Lkanto and the Milgis area – all the luggas are in total flood! Quite unbelievable that less than twelve hours can transform an entire ecosystem. It’s going to be a tough few weeks for the people and their livestock, as clean drinking water is near impossible to find and the flash flood would have taken many casualties, but it’s brilliant news all the same.
Thank you, Stella! We are so proud of our success in Latakwen and the live-saving difference it has made to the community, especially in the face of this unforeseen drought. Therefore we are especially excited to bring more clean water access to the region with our new Women Helping Women / Kvinner Hjelper Kvinner project in Swari!