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!

 

Smiles are only the beginning


The most amazing this about this photograph is that it doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what will happen in this place.

Yet, so often, we get caught up in images like these. Don’t get me wrong, there is every reason to. The first drops of clean, safe water for a school bring dramatic and immediate changes.  In an instant, children – often young girls – are freed from the daily burden of carrying water from a far away stream or infested pond. Water is used for washing and cleaning, restoring dignity and pride. Crops are irrigated and parched plants begin to show new signs of life as the fear of hunger subsides. Stomach aches fade and soccer games take on a new found energy. Childhood resumes.

But it’s the unseen that is truly remarkable. When you step back for a moment, another image emerges.

When I gaze into these faces, I see the future. I see young men and women engaged in learning. I see healthy, rested minds hard at work. I see this young girl, Purity, with time to dream about what she’ll be when she grows up. I see a market stand opening, packed with vegetables and crafts – products of fertile fields and productive hands. I see a leader, Steve, inspired by what someone did for him, yearning to help his own neighbor escape poverty.

I’ll admit though, I still get caught up in the moment. Water flowing, children splashing, and everyone cheering the opening of a new well will do that. In our narrowly focused world, we’re so used to goals and accomplishments. We love to celebrate what is “finished.” But if we stop there, we’ll miss the fullness of what is happening.

So let’s not forget that today is day one. The hard work of the next steps begin now. Hope is only beginning to bear fruit.

Then, when we celebrate with a community or a school like this one, we can celebrate things that we’ll likely never see – future events that we’ll certainly not have a hand in. We can celebrate Purity’s graduation from high school. Or Steve’s successful new enterprise, fresh out of university. We can cheer as a new school is constructed or as the local church fulfills its mission and raises nearby villages from poverty. We can celebrate things we cannot even imagine.

That’s what it means to join in their story. That’s what it means to hope for Steve and with Purity, and all their friends at the Care Compassion Orphanage.

When water comes… everything changes. These smiles are only the beginning.

What do you see?

Changamwe urban sanitation project taking shape!


I’ve been spending quite a lot of time with a men’s support group in Changamwe recently, an informal urban
settlement on the main Nairobi road out of Mombasa.

David and Herbert, members of Changamwe Men's Support Group at the proposed site

They have developed a proposal for a sanitation block in their community, involving three or four flush toilets and
a shower. The idea is that people will pay per use of the facility, and through this the group can raise funds for
another similar project in the future as well as provide support for AIDs affected families in the community.
The site is small, around 5m by 3m, but ideally located to the main road, and right next to the municipal water line
and the sewerage network. The group are also keen to include a community space in the project, to allow them to facilitate HIV awareness events and hold Voluntary Community Testing (VCT) evenings.
As well as support from TWP, the group are also working closely with Women Fighting AIDs in Kenya (WOFAK), a well established respected NGO with substantial experience of working in slum settlements in Kenya.
At this point we’re in the discussion stage, and are committed to facilitating the design process and workshop sessions. When we have some coherent plans and a decent proposal, we’re also very keen on the idea of funding the construction process, and as such entering into the world of urban water and sanitation. At the same time, TWP is talking to WOFAK about on – going support, and about ensuring that the group have the capacity to handle their income and maintain the facility in the long run.
Good, exciting, progress. Watch this space!