TWP embarks on Public Health Campaign in Northern Kenya

TWP has been slowly working towards establishing a presence in Northern Kenya for a couple of years. During this time we’ve brought clean water to both the House of Hope Orphanage as well as Kakiring Community.  Working in

Community members at Kakiring use the TWP funded water source.

Northern Kenya is a challenge, conditions are tough and success is not guaranteed. Mobilising equipment from Nairobi is time consuming and expensive, and the road north is slow and dangerous. But despite the challenges we’ve had great success. The children at House of Hope are able to focus on their learning, the people of Kakiring no longer need walk for hours everyday to collect water from the river.

So what’s new? Well, over the past few months we’ve been talking with our partner SERV International about maximising the benefit that clean water brings. We want to build upon the hygiene and sanitation training that comes as standard in our work, and develop a public health agenda that demonstrates a long term commitment to the welfare of the people with whom we work.

To that end, TWP is committed to developing, funding and  supporting an 18 month Public Heath campaign in Northern Kenya, with a focus on the children of House of Hope, the people of Kakiring, and those of a neighbouring community, Lolupe.  The campaign will focus on regular community level visits, reinforcing health and hygiene messages and empowering communities to engage with local government and the health care provision in and around Lodwar Town.

During the programme, staff will be focusing on the following issues:

  • Hand washing
  • Disease transmission routes and how to block them
  • Household sanitation
  • Human waste management
  • Menstrual health
  • Accessing local services
  • Managing a water point – Operation and Maintenance of project hardware
  • Nutritional understanding
  • Agricultural knowledge and skills

It’s a broad focus, but one we feel confident about. Once the programme is up and running we’ll be able to report of specific programme activities and experiences from the field. It’s an exciting programme, with a demonstrable long term focus on developing local knowledge and skills, and we feel it will impact greatly on the lives of those we are committed to.

It all kicks off in January 2013. Watch out for more updates as things get moving!

My Heart Will Not Sit Down

What are you reading this summer? A great spy novel perhaps? A mystery that has you on the edge of your seat, reading long into the night when you should be sleeping?

Here at The Water Project we have a reading list.  We challenge each other with concepts from the books we read.  Books on international development and theologies of service often top the heady list.  But this summer, it wasn’t one of those books that touched me the most. Instead, a little book that Becky Pichler told us about really grabbed my heart. Becky is a teacher from Wilson Elementary in West Allis, Wisconsin and she shared with us how her classroom of 4th and 5th graders read My Heart Will Not Sit Down together this past year.  Then, in response, they worked together to help fund a water project!

The story takes place in Cameroon where the main character, a young girl named Kedi, learns about the Great Depression of the 1930s and of children in New York City who didn’t have enough to eat.  Kedi just couldn’t forget the children in New York and her ‘heart could not sit down in peace’ until she did something to help.

One passage really captured my attention.  In it, we hear Kedi’s Mama question her plans to help. (more…)

TWP catch up with Kakiring Community in Northern Kenya

Posted by Jack Owen, TWP WASH Program Manager. 14 May 2012

I spent most of last year living in Kenya. A lot of that time I was working directly with our partner organisations, working through program strategies and contributing to project proposals. It was a very fruitful time, and led to new relationships as well as the strengthening of existing ones. As well as the office based work, I also spent a lot of time on the road, visiting projects, talking to communities and trying to get a genuine sense of the impact our work is having.

This is Elizabeth, a member of the community at Kakiring.

Whenever I think about impact, I think about Kakiring. The people of Kakiring village, a few kilometers south west of Lodwar, are inspiring. I first travelled the long and bumpy road from Kitale to Lodwar in 2010, on a feasibility study for one of our partners, Bridge Water Project. I had been living in Kakamega, Western Kenya, and helping to restructure the project when the opportunity came up to travel north. I jumped at it. An old gentleman called Geoffrey was looking for partnerships to help him support the people of Kakiring, and I agreed to travel with him to meet the people and take a look.

The days I spent there 2 years ago have never left me, and so when I was in Kenya last month I made it a priority to pay Kakiring a visit, and confirm that the borehole and hand pump scheme we worked on last year was serving the community and that the people were able to look after it correctly.

The handpump in use at Kakiring

It was fantastic to see. The pump was serving the people of Kakiring as well as the neighbouring villages. The 3 hour walk to the river was no more, and people looked visibly healthier. Children’s faces were shiny where once they were dull, and there were places to discreetly have a bucket shower behind every hut. I was welcomed like a true friend. We ate githerie (maize and beans) under the stars, and danced to the beat of the drum until the moon rose high into the night sky. There was a sense that things were getting better in Kakiring, and an energy that comes from achieving something tangible.

Jackson Ewoi and myself catch up after a long time!


The overflow from the borehole had been encouraged into a channel which led into a fenced plot ready for cultivation. These semi nomadic pastoralists were thinking of planting. A first tentative step away from the reliance on food aid that is the norm in this part of the country.

Everyone talks about impact all the time, and struggles to quantify it. Numbers served, diseases reduced or eliminated. Children in school. Dishracks, washing lines, and latrines in homes. Income generating activities. All of these are indicators of positive impacts that water, sanitation and hygiene projects can achieve. And I think about all of this too, but sometimes when I think about impact, I just think about Kakiring, and the genuine relief written all over the faces of those whose lives have been transformed through access to a functioning handpump.

What the future holds is not clear for such marginalised peoples, but it is great to see Kakiring pull together, look after their supply successfully, and start to make plans for the future that are based on the goal of self sufficiency.

I’ll be back there soon I hope, and look forward to working with the people as they take the next step forward.


Chats with Jack – Monthly Calls with Colleges and Universities

Tess with children in Rwanda; see the woman carrying water in the background?

In the late autumn of 2011 we started meeting via Webex each month with students from colleges and universities all over the country.  Our goal?  To connect them to other like-minded peers and leaders who are interested in being a part of the solution to the economic water crisis that keeps millions without access to clean, reliable water sources.

In December we began recording the calls; I tell you, this is so fun!   So why bother doing the recording?  So we can share news from the field, and begin to catalog conversations that others (like you) can listen to and learn from, at your leisure!

Jack, the voice from the field

For our December call we had an interview with Jack Owen, our Program Manager, where we heard about a pilot project we are beginning in Kenya with a Field Partner, Pamoja Trust.   Working in informal urban settlements around Mombasa, the pilot project will establish two water kiosks, provide hygiene and sanitation training, and is expected to serve between 2500-3000 people.  Listen to our chat with Jack by clicking this link, and hear more details about this project, and stories of changed lives.

What’s next in our line up of recorded topics?  Keep your eyes open for topics such as ‘Time is Money Water!’ (to be recorded during our Jan. 25th call),  ‘Technology Spotlight’, and others.  Have ideas for discussion topics?  Write to us!  We’d like to hear from you.

“Catch you on the radio”, as they say!