April 3, 2014
Voss Foundation’s Program Officer, Caitlin Rackish, visited the site twice on her recent trip to this northern Kenyan region, where she visited six of our projects with Milgis Trust, our longest-standing implementing partner. In a recent e-mail from Kenya, Caitlin shared information about the progress of the latest project, funded by Lene Maria for Rent Vann:
“The site of the well is approximately 20 meters from the bank of the Seiya Lugga, a seasonal river, hidden in a small clearing in a thicket of brush. Although the riverbed of the Seiya appears dry there is water below the surface, and several shallow, had-dug holes within the riverbed are the only current water source for both people and livestock.
Although Milgis Trust originally planned to rehabilitate a pre-existing well, the water was too salty, so they had to look for a new site. Saline water is a common problem along the Seiya. In fact, the team dug five wells by hand before they found a location that was not saline. The sixth and final well, which is approximately 10 meters deep, is located where a fresh water catchment from the hills enters the Seiya on the opposite bank.
On Monday, the first time I visited the site, we found a team of ten Samburu warriors and wazee or, old men, at work on the construction of a tall concrete wall around the completed well to protect the source from floods. Two warriors were moving a pile of large stones closer to the site in preparation for construction, two were digging a circular trench in a 1 meter radius from the well, and three were sawing a steel barrel in half to hold water for mixing concrete. Another group was busy building an 8-foot tall natural fence from acacia around a clearing another 10-20 meters inland from the well, which will protect the solar panels and the watchman’s house. When we returned the following Sunday, both walls were completed. While I was in Samburu, Pete [Ilsey,of Milgis Trust] flew to Nairobi to acquire the Lorentz pump, the controller, and solar panels. The piping has already been laid.”
The solar water system is part of the fourth project funded by Lene Maria for Rent Vann (or, Lene Maria for Clean Water, in English) in memory of Lene Maria Bergum, and their second in Kenya. The solar water system will provide water, via two storage tanks to three locations – a community standpipe community, a school standpipe located next to the kitchen, and a standpipe for the teacher’s quarters. Once the solar water system is completed, Milgis Trust will start to repair the schools classrooms, kitchen, and existing facilities, and complete construction of the Milgis School.
Milgis School is a primary school started seven years ago as a joint initiative between the Ilgwe Eldome community and Milgis Trust. Milgis School educates its students in both traditional academics and conservation. As basic education is a necessity, so is conservation education in this region. Milgis School’s mission is to nurture conservation ideas in the minds of young Samburu children with the eventual goal of helping the community to understand, through their own children, the many benefits of conserving wildlife, the habitat, and the Samburu way of life. Read our previous posts to learn more about Milgis School and to see a complete description of the project and the budget.
Check the website in the coming weeks for more information about her time in Samburu and the rest of her trip.