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Status Updates for Milgis Trust Water Projects

Since 2008, Voss Foundation has funded 13 solar-powered water systems with implementing partner Milgis Trust in the Samburu region of Kenya. In addition, Voss Foundation has provided three grants for ongoing maintenance and management of these systems with funding raised through the  Just Around the Corner (JAC) 2011 and Just Around the Next Corner (JANC) 2015 Art Auctions.

Due to the number of water systems, the complexity of the projects, and the remoteness of the communities, Milgis Trust employs a full-time Water Coordinator, Lazaro Letipo, to oversee the water systems. Although the communities are able to perform basic maintenance and make temporary fixes on the systems, they need support from Milgis Trust for more complex repairs.

As the Water Coordinator, Lazaro is responsible for ensuring that all projects are properly maintained. Lazaro regularly visits the communities to check the status of the water systems and make repairs using specialized tools and a stock of replacement parts. A portion of the cost is covered by water payment systems developed by each community.  At least twice a year, Lazaro prepares detailed reports summarizing the status of each system, which are provided to the Milgis Trust team and, in turn, to Voss Foundation.

This follow up is invaluable for Voss Foundation. It enables us to monitor the water and sanitation systems we fund, and the impact that clean, safe water has on the people and communities where our partners work. It also helps Milgis Trust improve the design, implementation, and management of future water systems, and helps Voss Foundation to better support these efforts.

We’ve copied some of Lazaro’s hand-written reports. If you have supported these water systems through the Women Helping Women, JAC 2011, JANC 2015, or Lene Maria for Rent Vann campaigns, scroll down or click on a project in the table of contents to learn more about how your support has impacted the relevant communities.


Latakwen Water Project General Report

Year Funded:  2008
Funding Campaign:  VOSS

The project in general is still going on fantastically without any major problems with the exception of those minor [breaks]of water taps. The community at large is serious about their project. They [have]their water project committee who are the eyes of the project in case of any problems. The project committee are the first people to [sit]and talk to the whole community. The work of the committee is to organize meetings concerning the water project and also they are the ones who collect money from the community, since they agreed to pay the 5 Kenya shillings per twenty liters of water. Right [now they have]about 70,000 shillings in their water project account. I myself as the water manger, saw that a good example of Latakwen is helpful in many ways. First and foremost, it leads the community to be more serious about their project and also the community saw the fruits as the project, which was funded by the Voss Foundation. Last but not least, Latakwen community is still thanking both Voss and Milgis Trust who are still together with the community for any repair of the project.

Yours faithfully, Lazaro Letipo, Milgis Water Project Manager


Milgis Trust Water Projects At The End Of May 2017: Latakweny Water Project

This was the third project* funded by the Voss Foundation and through the way the project is running, since the beginning it’s been really fantastic. This is because all the parts of the project are really working as they were.

(a) Borehole well/water pump: Its pump is still pumping water from the well properly without any problem, the only thing that we had faced from the project during this month’s drought season is that the well was almost too dry due to the drought season we faced all over Samburu. Later, in early June, we received a lot of rain, which made the well to be able to have enough water. (b) Solar panels: The panels are still connected properly and glowing like they were during the start of the project. Actually, [the panels are]well protected and are cleaned after every two days by the guards so that they will not have any dust on top of them. (c) Pipeline: The line of the pipe is still dug underground without any exposure of running water during this season or rain we received in the month in May. The few parts which we’ve seen the community tried their level best to [re-bury]. (d) Main Tank: The project normally contains one main tank, which receives enough water and after every 5 hours is full, but during a drought season, water becomes little due to the [shallow depth of the]hand dug well. Normally [during]those times, we try to be so serious so that the pump will not run without water in the well. (e) Water taps: Water taps are the most problematic part in all projects because they are the ones used by everybody in the community. During this month I had replaced three taps due to blockage of salt water found in the well.

*Latakweny was the first project funded by Voss Foundation. Given the discrepancy, and the fact that Lazaro usually only writes one report/project, this may be for Swari, which was funded in 2009 by the Women Helping Women Campaign.


Ndonyo Nasipa Water Project

Funded: 2010
Funding Campaign: Women Helping Women

Ndonyo Nasipa water is going on properly fitted the way it was since the start of the project with a lot of care from the community due to that they had started a wonderful project same as Latakwen. This is because I usually visit all the projects and have a meeting with the community and show them how to prosper their skills and have other ways of getting some income from the project. Ndonyo Nasipa community deaded to pay 100 shillings per household every month, and this actually makes the community to be more serious with the project. The money they are collecting they use to pay the person who is in charge of the taps so that no one will [break]with the water taps.
(a) Water pump/well: The project was a hand dug well, which is about twenty-two feet and has eight feet of water. The water in the well is trying to serve the whole community, including the school and health center. According to my visit to Ndonyo Nasipa well, I [know]that water is not enough for the community. The community population [has]increased because people normally migrate to the neatest water. The pump itself is okay generating the water found in the well properly, since the start of the project, the water pump has not stopped.
(b) Solar panels: The solar panels are still fitted properly the way they were during the start of the project. The guards clean them every two days to prevent dust from blocking the sun to generate heat. Both solar panels and the well are in one compound which are protected by the guards.
(c) Pipeline: The water pipes are still dug deeply underground without any exposure during the rainy season. Pipes were [installed], we have not repaired anywhere, even right now you cannot identify where the line of the pipe is passing.
(d) Main Tank: Ndonyo Nasipa water project contains one main tank, which serves the [whole]community. Through the visit [to]the project I [learned]that there is no day that the tank is full of water because the pipes are climbing a small hill and also depend [on]the pressure of the pump and also the volts of the solar panels. The tank is standing properly and [the]inlet and outlet [is fitted]the way it was before. [On]my monthly visit I changed both inlet and outlet of valves due to normal blockage of salt water.
(e) Water taps: Water taps found at the project are 4 in number… I replaced 3 of them [that had]the same problem of blockage as the other projects. This problem of taps normally is common to all projects. This is because they are the ones used by everybody and that is why Ndonyo Nasipa community decided to [put someone]in charge of water taps and contribute money per month to pay that person.

Yours faithfully, Lazro Letipo, Milgis Water Projects Manager


Urra Water Project Report

Funded: 2011
Funding Campaign: Just Around the Corner Art Auction

The [Urra} project… is still doing well without any major problem. It was a hand dug well of which at the first time was dug inside the nearby river. There were heavy rains river flooded and the well became full of soil and stuck the pump, which makes it stop. After we identified the problem, we dug another well beside the river… and the project right away is in proper condition.

Urra water project is the project which attracts [the most]wild animals, like elephants and warthogs, simply because they have a water trough there close to the solar panel compound and below the trough is red muddy soil. After taking water [the animals]remain below the trough and enjoy themselves and cool off by the wet, muddy soil from the overflow of the trough. The project in the real sense made even our scouts have the right number of wild [animals]he saw at the end of the day.

Also before the project there was a very big number of wild animals during the drought season getting into narrow wells [in search of]water to drink, but since the beginning of the project, the problem reduced simply because the troughs [that we are including in]most projects are very helpful to both livestock and wildlife.

All the part of the project are really working, starting from the pump, panels, storage tanks, and water taps with the exception of normal parts which [are the]taps. I had to replace 3 of them. Also when I went to visit them at the end of this month of May, I saw two parts [of the pipeline]. The committee organized that day for people to make sure that it is covered by the soil and also by heavy logs.

Urra community still appreciate[es]the water project [they]received and really send me to pass a lot of regards to Milgis Trust and the director of Milgis to pass [regards]to Voss Foundation for the big hand they lent to the community.

Yours faithfully, Lazaro Letipo, Milgis Trust Water Project Manager


Nkwe-Eltome / [Milgis School] Water Project Report

Year Funded: 2013
Funding Campaign: Lene Maria for Rent Vann

This was the project nearby Elkanto being near to Seyia River. This project is doing well without any major problems this time. This time the community are very serious about their water because of normal meetings I use[d]to have with them. Since they have their water project committee who also chose one of the women to [take]care of water taps and control [panel]and livestock [trough]instead of everybody just opening the tap.

During the end of the month meeting, they decided to collect just one hundred shillings per household and use it to pay the woman who is in charge of the water taps. The balance is kept [in a]water project account. From that time, they chose the guard of the taps, misuse of the water became less. [I]had to replace their two taps just once because of [serious breaks].

The well was dug by hand and it is beside the river. [We]tried to cover all the wells which are open like that so that they flowing water during rainy season will not get into them and also other dirty things will not get into it and block the pump.

Through my visit at the end of this month of May, the project well force starting from the pump, solar panels, piping, tanks to the taps all of them are fantastically fitted just the way they were during the start of the project… [for]my patrol [to all]the projects, I go with all my tools so that incase of any replacement or repair, I am ready to do [it]at the moment.

Last but not least, the area community is still appreciating the Voss [Foundation]funders of the project, including the implementers who are still working with them, and they are still saying to pass a lot of greetings to you guys.

Yours faithfully, Lazaro Letipo


Kileswa Water Project Report

Year Funded: 2013
Funding Campaign: Just Around the Next Corner Art Auction

This project was started by the county government of Samburu who drilled [a borehole]and generated water by the use of power from a generator. Later we changed the program since the community reported that the machine was no longer working due to the expensiveness of fueling the machine and also spare parts were destroyed.

We changed the project to use solar panels and also extended water to the village and the small school nearby who [was]were suffering a lot because [of lack of access to]water. Before our project they use[d]to [walk to collect]water from where the position of the borehole is.

During that time, we changed everything for them, and they saw that life had become better. The program they received is wonderful because it is economic. They had started the good program of choosing the committee, who are in charge of the project. Also, they agreed that they will collect some money from the water so that it will help them in other difficulties. They decided to pay one shilling per livestock, and this is mostly to make them be more serious to their project.

Otherwise, all the part of the project are fitted properly in the way that they were during the start of our project with [the]exception of the taps, which are normally blocked by salt water. This time around I had changed four of them in that project.

Yours faithfully, Lazaro Letipo


Seren and Kasipo Water Project Report

Year Funded: 2012
Funding Campaign: Just Around the Corner Art Auction

There are two areas, which combined to use one project. [There is a]very far distance in between them… The project was started by the county government of Samburu and drilled several meters underground, and fixed a hand pump to them, which was problematic to all people since everyone was supposed to have water. First and foremost, pregnant women were suffering a lot and also other people, including men, who were suffering from chest problems while pumping… Later we changed everything to be solar [powered]. That’s the time we knew the community was very happy and also knew that they have friends who are there for them.

The project was to serve both communities, but unfortunately the water which is found in the borehole is not enough since [it]is not only those communities that are using the water. Even others who are from a far distance, about 20 kilometers, [use this borehole]because the area is desert.

Kasipo/Seren water project contains three main tanks to supply water to the community. At the beginning, the tanks received enough water for the community, but recently [it]started not to have enough water. Other parts of the project, like the panels, are in proper condition, the same way they were fitted during the start of the project.

The line of the pipe is still dug into the ground properly without any exposure with the exception of one of the parts that I had joined last month [that]was destroyed by elephants while they were looking for water. The water taps are having the common problem, but as long as I have spare parts, I usually go and fix [them]where necessary. This month I had replaced 4 taps in both areas at Seren/ Kasipo.

Last but not least, as I was on my last visit to that community, they passed a lot of greetings to Voss through Milgis Trust, the implementer’s, who are still seriously together with them.


Masikita Water Project Report

Funded: 2012 / 2015
Funding Campaign: Lene Maria for Rent Vann

This project was found when it was already drilled by the country government of Samburu, but at long last it could not function properly when managed by the county since It was using a generator to generate heat to the pump. The system they were using was not economic since the generator was requiring many things like fuel, oil, and also repair when [it]stop[ped]working.

During the start of our project which uses only solar power to generate heat life because better to the community, simply because the system we are using is much more economical and accurately fixed starting from the borehole through the main line to where the community gates near water taps.

The water project is running fantastically without any major problems due to the community being [very]serious with their water. Through my visit [with]them at the end of this month of May we had a meeting with them, including the water project committee. I tried to go through what we have agreed during the other meetings we had before to know how far they went with the project by finding other skills and knowledge to prosper their water project. The committee together with the rest of the community tried to collect some money per household every month with the management of their own since they trust themselves and they build a wonderful kiosk into their water taps to control children and donkeys for not destroying their taps most of the time. The part of the projects work this time as follows.

(a) Water pump: The Masikita borehole was very deep and it contains a lot of water in it, it usually saves a lot of community including others who migrate from far distance looking for pastures in times of drought. One day at the month of April while we were on serious drought season the pump stopped and quickly I received a massage that the pump was not good. I tried my leave immediately by the use of my motorcycle with all the requirements and I met people who are really thirsty and I replaced immediately what was the problem and people went on ro have their water as usual and they became happy and they were thankful to Milgis Trust for the effort they are doing and also the funders of the project. (b) Solar panels: In the side of solar panels, they are still fitted and connected like they were during the start of the project by the guard after every one day to resist dust for not blocking the heat directly from the sun. (c) Water pipeline: The line of the pipe is still dug deeply to the ground without any exposure from the rain we received this month, even where the line was passing (d) Storage tanks: Masikita water project contains the main storage tank which saves all other parts of the community, school, health center, and water trough for wild animals, and to the community taps. Actually, they are full every day since the panels and the pump that is inside the borehole is of high quality. (e) Water taps: There are 5 taps that normally [have]the normal problem of being blocked due to salty water found in the area and… had to replace 3 of them.


Masikita Simiti Water Project Report

Funded: 2016
Funding Campaign: Lene Maria for Rent Vann

Masikita Simiti is closer to Masikita and this was the latest project we had implemented last year. The project was a hand dug well serving a very big village of which people migrated and came together and form more than one thousand households.

The village is located near a small river, and before the project people use to [collect]their water from that small river, understanding the repercussions of getting water in the river close to the village. People most of the time become ill due to the dirty water they get there, and that is the main reason. Since the beginning of the project, community people were very happy because the illness stopped. The community started also to follow the footprint of other projects by introducing the committee of water so that they will take care of their water and find other skills from the project. (a) Water pump: The pump fitted to Masikita Simit last year for a few months properly, but unfortunately it stopped at the end year. I was lucky that my store at Milgis Trust had a spare pump, and I immediately went and removed the one which was having a problem and [replaced it with]the spare one. The project went on properly understanding that all machines are now accurate. (b) Solar panels: Solar panels are properly fitted and connected as they were during the start of the project without any tampering. The guards who are looking after them are usually tidying them to avoid dust. (c) Water pipeline: The way the other projects are is the same. With Simiti the line of the pipe is still dug deeply into the ground without any exposure [from]the running water during the rainy season or the crossing of livestock. (d) Storage tanks: The project contains two main storage tanks which are fully of water daily and it’s used by many livestock the way Masikita project is used. Also, both Masikita projects have troughs, which are full of water day and night so that wild animals, which are passing by at night will have water… [T]he Grevy’s zebras and gazelles are mostly found in both areas as well as ostrich. (e) Water taps: The project is having three water taps and gate vales that are always in the main tanks… those are the main parts that face problems because of the salty water found in most of the area. This time round I had replaced 3 of them.


Loltepos and Mpang Water Project Report

Funded: 2016 / 2017
Funding Campaign: Just Around the Next Corner Art Auction

At the beginning of March 2017, we had started the two new projects. All of the water project team went there with all the materials required and yet we did fantastic work there, which took two months to finish. Both of the projects were done properly since the beginning of drilling until the day of fitting everything – solar panels, piping, and dipping the pumps into the boreholes. The first place we went to was Mpang and it was much more desert-like area, and was very hot and dustier than the place they used to get water before, which was about 30 kilometers away. People used donkeys to carry water to drink to their homes…

While we were working at the both areas, people could not believe that water [would]come out until the day that they saw with their naked eyes. On that day almost everyone was just around the taps like a newborn was born that day.

All through, the work we did in both projects was really tough, but a lot of strength was from Milgis Trust since we brought everything that was required in the desert, and that is the day I realized that team is a must to succeed.

Both project communities were very grateful… both Voss Foundation with Milgis Trust who implemented the project, which they never saw in their areas, understanding that water is life to everything moving on top of the earth.

Both project communities are new. Since this is the first month I will try to visitm them [like]the rest of the projects and educate them [about]how to take care of their project and also for them to find other ways of getting more skills from the project not just to take water because they had succeeded.

Yours faithfully, Lazaro Letipo

Thank you, Milgis Trust, for your commitment to the functionality and management of existing systems and keeping us up to date on the functionality of each project. Special thanks to everyone who has supported a campaign that made one of these projects possible.


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