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Next week the Bergum family will attend the opening ceremony of the second Lene Maria for Rent Vann project with implementing partner Milgis Trust in the Samburu region of Kenya: the Milgis School and Ilgwe Eldome. Cecilie Malm Bruntland, our European Representative, will join the Bergums for the opening ceremony. She will share a report of the opening ceremony in the coming weeks.

In honor of the opening the Milgis School and Ilgwe Eldome, we wanted “walk” everyone through Lene Maria for Rent Vann’s first solar-powered water system in Kenya, Masikita, which was completed in 2013, and continues to provide clean water to the community. Voss Foundation’s Program Director, Caitlin Rackish, visited Masikita on her trip in March, and drew a rough sketch to map out the system like the ones of Ndonyo Nasipa and Latakwen. See the page from her notebook above!




Milgis Trust retrofitted a pre-existing borehole drilled by the government with a solar pump. The borehole, which is over 100 meters deep, was previously connected to a pump powered by a diesel generator. Not only is diesel expensive but, because Samburu is so remote, it is also is difficult to get. In addition, because the diesel pump was old, it often failed to bring water up the pipeline.

The borehole was, and continues to be, the only year-round water supply in the area for both people and livestock. People come from many kilometers away to collect water for themselves and their animals. With diesel-powered pump, the borehole could not produce enough water to support both the people, livestock, and wildlife.

The borehole is located in the middle of the raised cement triangle, which protects it from floods. (NB: The riverbed, which is currently dry, can be seen in the background.) The tall metal posts are used during drilling.







The pipeline, which carries water from the borehole to the four access points, is on the left side of the borehole cap. The wires and cables that connect the pump to the solar panels is on the right.







The solar panels at Masikita are approximately 10 meters from the borehole and are protected by a chain link fence. Twelve 270-watt solar panels power the solar pump. The system could pump 30,000 liters per day if needed.

The small cement building in the background used to house the Diesel generator. Milgis Trust didn’t build a hut for the watchmen who is responsible for guarding the borehole and the solar panels because both are visible from his manyatta. The fence of his manytta, made with thorny branches, can be see just behind the cement house. 






The primary pipeline runs along the main dirt road that cuts through town. A branch in the center of town leads to the community standpipe which has two taps. When Caitlin visited in March 2014, she learned that a member of the community washes the beautiful sign commissioned for the project regularly. There isn’t even a scratch on it!







Caitlin and the team, who were in a jeep, passed the group of women and girls pictured to the left about 10-15km (or 6-9 miles) outside of Masikita. They are from a neighboring community and walk miles to and from Masikita at least 1-2 times a week to collect water for their families because they don’t have a water supply. Each filled dozens of jerry cans that they either carried or loaded in saddlebags on the back of their donkeys to take home.







The main pipeline goes to two 10,000-liter storage tanks.









Water from the right storage tank is piped downhill to a watering hole for livestock and wildlife, like the Grevy zebra and lesser kudu.








Water from the left storage tank is piped to a secondary storage tank and tap at the health center (the closest building) and  to a secondary storage tank and tap at the school, which can be seen in the distance.








The health center storage tank and standpipe.









At the school storage tank, piped water from the borehole is supplemented by rainwater harvested from the gutters of the classroom next to the tank.






The school standpipe is located in front of the kitchen. The headmaster, David, informed Caitlin that the the original faucet on the standpipe broke and had to be replaced. Since the school does not have a fence, passersby who wanted water often stop to use the standpipe. Someone who came when school wasn’t in session accidentally broke the original faucet. To protect the new one, the headmaster unscrews it at the end of the day and locks it in the office. It is replaced each morning before the students arrive. Passersby are able to get water at the community standpipe.

When Caitlin visited, there was a small leak at one of the connection joints on the section of the pipeline between the school storage tank and the school standpipe. Lazaro, the Water Coordinator, the water watchman, and the teachers, tried to fix it during the visit, but they needed additional supplies that Lazaro didn’t have with him. He was able to go back soon after to make the repair.

We are so pleased to be able to report that the first Lene Maria for Rent Vann water system continues to function smoothly. It has been a huge success and everyone in Masikita has access to clean, safe water over a year and a half after completion! We look forward to sharing similar reports about the Milgis School and Ilgwe Eldome project in the future.

Learn more about our Kenya projects and the Lene Maria for Rent Vann memorial campaign.

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