Water Matters

The latest on our work and those supporting it

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.



It’s World Water Day!

Today is all about community…

World Water Day is a chance for us to cheer about our community (you!) and most importantly the communities we serve in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and most recently Burkina Faso.

Water is something we all share. It’s a community resource. Making sure we all have access to the 1% of the earth’s water we can actually drink will always require that we work together.

So, this World Water Day, we want to take a moment to celebrate how community makes that happen.


Thank you. Your Voice Matters.

Over the past few years, thousands of you rallied your own local community to help provide clean, safe water to villages in Africa.

From car washes (like this one at Cashmere High in New Zealand), to bake sales, water walks, talent shows, and even teeter-tottering, you helped build a first step – access to clean, safe water.

And right now, tens of thousands of people are building on that foundation. Developing communities are using their new resource everyday – not just to survive, but to thrive and work toward an even better tomorrow – just like you do.

Without your voice, in your community, this wouldn’t be possible.  So to better celebrate World Water Day, why not take a moment to invite someone new to the story?

Head over to Facebook or Twitter and post an update about what we’re doing together.  Encourage your friends to “Like” or “Follow Us“.

Together we can make an even bigger impact.  (For fun, for every 100 new likes we get we’ll give away a water bottle to a random follower.)


People Change Everything.

We know that the greatest accomplishments and the most exciting new ideas made possible by our work won’t simply pour out from the tap of a new well. They’ll come from the hands and minds of the people who use it.

People change everything. Clean, safe water helps make that possible.

That’s why today is most importantly a chance to celebrate the amazing communities we are privileged to partner with in countries like Kenya.

One of the most recent success stories is unfolding in Mtito Andei, a small town on the road between Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya

Here, TWP’s partner, The Africa Sand Dam Foundation, is working with the Kakai Self Help Group. The people of Kakai have organized themselves into a team comprised of 22 men and 18 women.  This leadership team plays an integral role in mobilizing the rest of the community as they work to construct a sand dam and shallow well.

Sand dams are an amazing type of water project.  And it’s why we’re really excited about our new partnership with ASDF.

A sand dam traps seasonal rain behind a small dam.  Over time it fills with sediment (sand) which traps water.  That water can be collected for drinking, but it also raises the surrounding water table making agriculture much more sustainable.

These projects help provide what is called “food security” – an assurance that what you plant you’ll be reasonably certain you can harvest.   Access to water and food security can go hand and hand, and the U.N. just happens to be focused on it this World Water Day.

Sand dam full of water, just after it was completed

What we love most about these projects though, is that it’s the communities who build them.  From gathering stone, to mixing concrete, building forms and putting it all together – there’s work for everyone.  Your support helps pay for supplies, engineers, well pumps and training.  But it’s the community that makes it happen.  In the end, the size of the dam and the incredible amount of water it stores is only eclipsed by the pride of ownership the community will have.

We hope you’ll watch as we work to fund another ten of these large scale sand dam projects this year.

Maybe you’ll even want to join in too.  Happy World Water Day!


Time to Celebrate?

Today, the World Health Organization and Unicef Joint Monitoring Program released a report that the world has met the drinking water target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

There’s no question that the latest report from the folks tracking progress of this MDG contains a lot of good news.  Millions of people throughout the world have received “improved” (not necessarily clean or safe) access to water over the last decade.

Many good people have been working hard during that time to focus the world’s attention on what we know to be a foundational building block in improving people’s lives – access to clean, safe water.  We’re keenly aware that without goals like these and the attention they generate, the progress we see today would likely have been far less.

So, first let’s celebrate that.  A rising tide indeed floats a lot of boats.

At the same time though, let’s not get carried away in claiming “success” in meeting any goal just yet. There is far too much work left to do.

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Boy, Do We Have a Great Date for You!

Been thinking about doing something for the first time, or even a second or third time, to help bring clean water to those in need?  Boy, do we have a great date for you!  Grab a pen, your iPhone, your family calendar, or your church bulletin; and mark down Thursday, March 22nd.  This day is set aside each year as World Water Day (WWD), where people all over the world talk about water, and its vital importance.

WWD is no small thing!  The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.  Each year since 1993 people have been getting out there and making a splash in their world for clean water.

This year’s focus is Water and Food Security.  Did you know that 70% of the water used in the world is used for agriculture?  Growing food takes tons of water, literally!  In fact, it takes about 3963 gallons of water to produce just 2 pounds of beef!  So without adequate water, people can’t grow adequate food.  Having access to clean, reliable water sources is important not just for drinking, bathing, and other hygiene practices, but for growing food.

Join us this year, and do something to commemorate WWD this March 22nd.  Host a fundraising event like a walk for water, take the Water Challenge, run in a road-race and get sponsors, and give the gift of clean water to those who do not have it.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and re-post the news and project updates we post.  Check out our Get Involved page for more ideas about how you can make this year’s World Water day a wave of success!

And invite a friend!  May as well ‘make it a date’!