February 5, 2012
Update from Latakwen: After expanding the school at Latakwen, site of our first solar water system in Kenya, and following the increase in students due to our water project, the local government has now expanded the hospital with a new maternity wing served by clean water. Traditionally, Samburu women give birth at home in their manyattas, and we don’t want to disturb the culture, however we do hope that with a brand new maternity wing and access to clean water onsite, women with complicated births at least will have somewhere to go.
Update from Swari: The local government recently built a new hospital in Swari, where we completed our second water project in Kenya. The hospital structure has just been completed, and we hope access to clean water onsite will continue to foster infrastructure development in the area. One year after our project implementation, the government had decided to construct a health clinic in Swari–now, that progress is being built upon with the expansion of facilities into a full-blown hospital–and none of this could have happened without access to clean water made available by the Voss Foundation, our partners, and supporters! This is a great demonstration of how water can be an engine for growth!
Update from Nyiroyia: We spoke with our partners, and their contacts in the village will let us know when the security situation allows us to continue our work there safely. The pipes have already been dug down in trenches, and it would be costly to dig them out now. Milgis Trust believes it is better to leave them until they are ready to recommence the project, because it will help so many people. It could take 1-3 years though, which is just one example of the need for flexibility during project implementation. The Voss Foundation decided to use four of the eight solar panels for its latest project at Urra, completed in February 2012. The remaining four panels and pump will be put to the best use possible. Migis Trust has already made some suggestions, based on its assessment of the region (see below).
Future projects: Now that word has spread across Samburuland about the wonderful work Voss Foundation and Milgis Trust are doing to build water systems for communities, there is great demand among the villages for their own water systems! Helen, Pete, and Moses at Milgis Trust are trying to figure out the best process by which to evaluate the demands of the various groups for future Voss Foundation water projects. It’s heartening to know that our beneficiaries appreciate our work! Not many Samburu can write, so it might be difficult to require formal written applications; but, on the other hand, it is important for the communities to understand the responsibility of a water project. A final decision has not been reached, but as of now the debate centers on whether it would be too demanding, or if it would help us identify those communities who are most invested and eager to improve their own lives, and have seriously considered all the components required for water eligibility, including conservation of nature and wildlife, preservation of Samburu tradition, and a commitment to peace, gender equality, and education.
With these requirements in mind, we spoke about future projects for the remainder of the funds raised by the Just Around the Corner Art Auction, as well as future Voss Foundation water projects in the region going forth. Some possibilities emerged, where communities have already shown a willingness to cooperate on water initiatives: one larger community has managed to introduce a water fee and have deposited the revenue with Milgis Trust for safekeeping to save for such a project; they are fortunate enough to already have a borehole, but want to replace the costly fuel pump with a solar pump. The women of another community (located 20-30 km beyond the mountains at Urra) walked to the opening ceremony there to ask for water in their own village, demonstrating their commitment to the process by helping to dig trenches at Urra. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of need for clean water in these parts!
The Voss Foundation is committed to transparency and accountability, and believes in honestly discussing the struggles encountered–as well as the successes achieved–at each step of the development process, in order to inform, adapt, and improve. Stay tuned to hear what happens next as we recount our efforts to bring clean water to communities in Sub-Saharan Africa!