June 29, 2015
In 2014, Voss Foundation and implementing partner Milgis Trust completed our eighth solar-powered water system in the Samburu region of Kenya and our third project funded by the 2011 Just Around the Corner Art Auction. Clean water – pumped to two water tanks and piped to five water access points – (1) one standpipe next to the borehole, (2) one standpipe in the community, (3) one standpipe at the school, and (4,5) two watering troughs for livestock and wildlife – is now available to over 2,000 people; in dry periods, that number is upward of 8,000. Previously, many families walked over 15 km for clean water. Now, the longest distance most people walk is 2km, and the wait time for water has been reduced from 4 hours to 10 minutes. In addition, Kileswa is situated along an important route through the Ndoto Mountains that is regularly used by pastoralists, so many travelers and their livestock will benefit from the water system on a daily basis.
The community helped map the route for the pipeline, dig the trench, and lay the pipe. They also helped collect slabs to make the base for the water tanks. A community-elected management committee consisting of 6 women and 4 men was established and trained. In addition, two water watchmen guard the borehole and solar panels, and take care of daily tasks like dusting the panels. Both groups are supported by Lazaro Lepito, Milgis Trust’s Water Coordinator. A maintenance plan and a financial management plan were also put in place. (NB: Each community establishes their own financial management system. According to Lazaro, Kileswa decided to charge a small fee to those who water livestock.)
Prior to the completion of the Voss Foundation project, the communities struggled to meet their needs such as drinking, cooking, bathing, washing, and caring for livestock with often-contaminated water from hand-dug wells and dams that they shared with local wildlife. Now, they have ample clean water.
Before the project, Moses Lesoloyia, Milgis Trust’s Ground Manager described the act of collecting water to meet daily water needs as “a battle” for the community. According to Moses, “[the community] used water from hand dug wells and from the dams which were not protected and were shared with livestock and wildlife.” Now, animals and humans have their own water access points that are available year-round.
Since Kileswa is located in a remote area with poor road access, it was difficult to get the materials to site. The team also implemented the project during a dry period, which was a challenge for the community; not only did they have to travel long distances to get water and fodder for their livestock, which can take a full day, they also had to make time to participate in the implementation. Fortunately, they were still able to complete the project quickly, and the community had water by October, which especially important this year since the rains didn’t come until April!
Thank you to Helen, Pete, and everyone who helped Milgis Trust complete the Kileswa project, as well as all 2011 Art Auction supporters.