21st July 2015
Kaaki village in Kitui County, Kenya, went two years without a working well. The diesel generator that powered the pump broke, and repairs were too difficult and too costly a burden for this impoverished community where most people live on less than £2 a day.
During the driest months of those two years, women – to whom the task of fetching water normally falls here – had to make a 16-mile round-trip trek to find water in the surrounding hills. The twice-per-week hike, with at least one donkey along to carry the water cans, usually took 6 hours or more and was undertaken in the dark, due to both daytime obligations and a desire to avoid the baking sun. It was a risk that had to be taken.
“I was afraid because of animals, robbers, and thugs,” said Ruth Mwango, a local preschool teacher.
Those fears became reality for some. Village leaders said there were cases of sexual assault against girls and younger women as they travelled.
For everyone, the hardship of having no easy access to clean water became a grinding misery. Some adults didn’t treat the water they found and got sick with diarrhoeal diseases. Children missed school because they were ill or searching for water. Bathing and washing clothes were out of the question. Livestock suffered as well, and that meant less food and less cash.
But the situation changed dramatically in June 2014 when Samaritan’s Purse rehabilitated the well using a solar power system. Twelve maintenance-free panels grab about 200 watts of energy from the sun that then power a control unit that powers the pump motor nearly 500 feet below. The pump then sends almost 400 gallons of water an hour through underground piping to two 2,600-gallon kiosks at the edge of the main road several hundred yards away.
“[This is] free, pure energy from the sun,” said Dr. Patrick Gitonga, Samaritan’s Purse Kenya deputy country director. “No pollution, no noise, no diesel costs.”
Five hundred families – an estimated 4,000 people – benefit, and the effects on the community have been transformational. Nearly every aspect of society has been positively affected, starting with the economy. Everyone can be more productive thanks to the hours regained not having to go in search of water. The well has also become a centre of village life, and a block of shops has been built next to it.
“I can see it has improved life for the community here,” said Maundu Masembi, vice-chairman of the local water management committee. “Education has gone up. Church attendance has gone up.”
Children are no longer out of school due to sickness. Their facilities now have sufficient water for drinking and hygiene, which means they don’t have to spend class time out looking for it.
“My children had to go long distances to fetch water,” said Milka Mwikali, mother of five. “Now they have time to study, and it has improved their performance in school.”
The spiritual climate seems to be improving too. At Pastor Joseph Mbulu’s church, which is located near the well, attendance has risen from 20 congregants to 50 or more, and members can fill up with water right after services. Church members are grateful to Samaritan’s Purse.
“They appreciate all the work,” Pastor Mbulu said. “They are praying for Samaritan’s Purse and for its continued work in the community.”
The transformation of Kaaki village proves clean water is worth celebrating! Thank you for your prayers and support as we partner together to provide this critical relief in Jesus’ Name.
“Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 35:6, NKJV).