The 10 Year Challenge


The Water Project has worked with communities who do not have access to reliable water for more than 10 years now. The “10 year challenge” meme provided the opportunity to reflect on all the things that have changed and on things we have accomplished since the start of The Water Project.

However, the thing that stood out to me was what didn’t change. We helped install a new well at Eshienga Primary School in western Kenya in 2009. The students came out to celebrate their new water point on the day construction was complete. They were thrilled that they no longer had to carry water to school each day just to have something to drink.

All of the kids in the picture no longer attend the school. They moved on to the nearby secondary school and now an entirely new cohort of students attend Eshienga Primary. One thing that hasn’t changed is the well. It still provides water to the students 10 years later.

This is a picture from our most recent visit in November.

Not only is water still flowing, it is safe for drinking. Our water quality tests conducted during the visit showed that there are no contaminants. Furthermore, the student health club formed at the time of the well’s completion is still active with 40 members and there is more than $50 in funds set aside to pay for repairs.

We know all of this because of our ongoing monitoring program. We visit our projects, past and present, multiple times throughout the year to ensure that water is still flowing. This information is published on our website for every project over the past decade.

Over the past decade, The Water Project has increasingly worked with a conviction that a project is only beginning once the construction of a well is complete. It seems pretty obvious to say that wells, like any mechanical device, malfunction over time.

As we monitored our projects and the breakdowns became immediately apparent. Regular visits to a well show just how often it happens. Monitoring alone is not enough, we believe in sharing the status of each project in real time.

In 2011, we learned that some of the original parts installed in the well at Eshienga Primary were substandard. We reported what we learned at the time and dispatched our teams to repair the issue.

A year after the maintenance work was done, we published a report from one of our regular monitoring visits. Our teams observed that the well was still providing safe water because that problem was addressed.

We continue to monitor the point and remain available for support. In 2015, we launched a new phone app-based monitoring system (mWater) that allowed us to publish to our website information about each water point immediately after it is visited by our teams. Anyone can go to our website and see the functionality status of every water point.

People can see that, like the case of Eshienga Primary, breakdowns happen and we are using monitoring to track when it happens and ensure that the problem is resolved. For example, here is how the well at Eshienga Primary has performed since 2015, when we began capturing data in a centralized database via cell phone with mWater:

Issues arose, they were reported, and we were able to respond in a timely manner to ensure that water continues to flow. Breakdowns are not unique to this school. We make a promise to every community that we will monitor and support each one of our projects.

We hope to celebrate the 10 year challenge every year as more projects turn 10 years-old. We also see it as a challenge to ourselves to ensure that water flows for more than a decade after a project is complete.

Notes from Spencer, Director of Program


In February I was able to make my first journey as Director of Program with The Water Project to visit our projects in Lungi and Lokomasama, Sierra Leone.  I had the good fortune of traveling with Michael Ballou, our resident engineer and operations manager on staff at The Water Project. We flew into Lungi Town, located to the North of Tagrin Bay, which flows between quaint and quiet Lungi and the large and sprawling capital of Freetown to the south. The area is marked by rows of Palm trees- vestiges of an oil industry now abandoned, and by numerous fruit and nut trees that continue to flourish in the area.  The thick crown of prolific mango trees serve as a ubiquitous seasonal candy-shop. Cashew trees are not as common, but provide a two-for-one fruit and nut combination within some of the communities. Cotton trees stand as sentinels above the tops of the mangos and palms with roots that resemble flying buttresses and thick branches that stretch toward the sun. Walk down a dirt ribbon road and discover breadfruit trees and guava. A humid coastal heat blankets the day of a dry season leading into a hotter and drier March.

Spencer with our partners in Sierra Leone

The people radiate a strength and resilience of those who have endured some of the most difficult trials that life has to offer- natural disasters, Ebola outbreaks, cholera epidemics, civil wars, and post-colonial political challenges.  Whether purchasing bread or negotiating passage through a road under construction we were often greeted with a slight smile and the words “my friend.” Our implementing partner organization, Mariatu’s Hope is working with communities to install or rehabilitate thirty-five water, sanitation, and hygiene projects this year and they are currently monitoring 124 water points which they have previously implemented.

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Q3 2016 Project Highlight


quarterly-project-update

When did it get to be October? Time is flying at The Water Project and thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’re happy to report 125 water projects have been completed so far with another 25 under construction! It’s amazing what can happen when people come together!

We’re changing it up third quarter and instead of featuring one specific project, we wanted to highlight spring protections. Below, Catherine explains how springs work and why they are so amazing as a clean water source for communities.

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Q2 Project Highlight


quarterly-project-update

We can’t believe it’s almost summer! This year is flying by and thanks to your support, we have already completed 49 projects with 26 currently under construction! That’s amazing and it’s all thanks to our incredible supporters and fundraisers – folks like YOU!

16-kenya4475-fetching-waterOur quarterly project highlight features our Southeastern Kenya WaSH program and a new well for the Kilala North Self-Help Group. As summer approaches and temperatures start to soar in the U.S., this program helps farmers in arid lands in Kenya gain access to clean water as well as improve their income and food security. The program mission is to enable communities to conserve soil and water by building sand dams and dug wells, digging terraces, planting trees, and developing farms. (more…)