Water Matters

The latest on our work and those supporting it

Amazing effort. Incredible results. Count us inspired!

What do water wells in Sierra Leone, senior projects, spaghetti dinners, an auction,  a day spa  and an inspirational fundraising effort have in common?  Olivia Coury!

Olivia is a senior at Daniel High School and has been working on her Senior Project since early in the fall of 2010.  Olivia’s passion for Africa and knowledge of the need for clean, safe water inspired her to fundraise for water projects in communities in Sierra Leone.  To date, Olivia has raised nearly $12,000.

In her research to find an organization to work with, Olivia said, “I wanted to hear stories of struggle, hope, and redemption–of real people with thoughts and feelings and ambitions. I guess what I’m saying is that The Water Project showed me, in a tangible way, the people behind the numbers that I wanted to help.” And help she did.

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Northern Kenya – The Road to Turkhana

Since I last posted, I’ve been over to Western Kenya to visit our partner Bridge Water Project. It’s been great to visit old friends, and to get involved in the day to day activities of a local development organisation. I’ll try and post a longer piece on some of the things we got up to whilst I was there another day, because for now I want to write about where I am now, just outside Lodwar Town in Northern Kenya.

Lodwar is the last large outpost before the northern border of Kenya, Lake Turkhana and the lands of Sudan. It is dry here. The Turkhana People who live here are traditionally pastoralists, herders of cattle, goats and camels. There has been a drought here for the last 10 years, so most of the cattle have died.  People rely heavily on the substantial aid presence here for food and relief, as without water little grows in the sandy ground. All the large well known aid organisations are here – it feels more like a disaster response than a developmental scene. People thinking of Kenya as the lush green of Western Province, the sandy beaches and palms of the Coast, or the skyscrapers of Nairobi will not recognise this place.

I am here co-ordinating two projects we have funded. I travelled up with one of our partners, Staff of Hope, along with their drilling rig and team of five. The Water Project is funding their work here, at an orphanage called The House of Hope and a nearby community called Kakiriing. The journey took us from Kitale in Rift Valley Province through Pokot and eventually to Lodwar. This is a journey of some 300km. On good roads, with a strong vehicle it could take 3 hours. The journey lasted three and a half days, and included five breakdowns and a near miss with bandit attack.

Problems with the hydraulic breaks, the radiator and the fuel pump meant hours by the side of the road, in dusty villages and in sweltering heat. On the third day we passed a convoy broken down on the road, and stopped briefly to say hi. Later on we heard they had been attacked shortly afterwards by bandits and had had to flee into the bush. One of their group was shot and is now in hospital.

Such challenges on the road have resulted in Lodwar being isolated from the rest of Kenya. It feels like a forgotten land.  The people here are represented by MPs, and are Kenyan citizens. Yet when you leave this place the people say “Greet Kenya for me” as you go. This is a place in dire need of support and with the lowest health and poverty indicators in all of Kenya.

Over the coming days Staff of Hope are drilling for water. I hope to bring you good news of the impact we are having here – of people served and some hope restored.

For now, I hope these images will paint a picture of one of the places The Water Project is currently in action.



Reverse Osmosis here in Mtwapa!

Last time I wrote on here, I briefly mentioned that the groundwater here is saline. It’s not good for drinking, yet most people drink it. Only the wealthy are able to consistently buy bottled mineral water.

As I was walking through town the other day, I saw a sign – ‘Dutch Water Limited’. As is my want whenever I see something with ‘water’ in it, I followed the sign and came to a gated compound with what looked like a factory inside. “Healthy drinking water for everybody” said the sign.

There was a lovely employee sat in the shade by the gate who shared the details with me. Dutch Water Limited are a for profit company, pumping around 25,000 litres of water out of the Mtwapa aquifer every day and purifying it for drinking. The process is long and complicated, but involves the state of the art process of reverse osmosis. Simply put, RV applies pressure to the saline water solution as it moves across a membrane, and enables salt and other impurities to be separated from the water molecules. With my breakfast this morning I have a cup of DWL water by my side and I can tell you it tastes good.

This discovery is in itself not amazing. A for profit company purifying water – this happens all over the world. The great bit is what they do with the water once its clean. I bought 10 litres for $0.64, enough to last our household four or five days, when used only for drinking. That’s cheap! You can buy one litre of mineral water in the shops for the same price. Not only that, but a percentage of the profits they make go to either expanding their facility (they have plans for a larger capacity plant by the sea) or into community projects. They also regularly deliver clean water to slum areas.

Sounds pretty good to me, and a great example of a private company investing in Kenya, providing local employment and contributing to the improved health of the local population.

Check out http://www.dwlwater.com/index_en.html for more details. I love innovative and ‘people centred’ technical approaches to the water crisis!

— Jack, TWP Program Director


Jambo! Habari ya leo?

Jambo! Habari ya leo? I’m Jack Owen, Program Director here at The Water Project. I’ve been learning some KiSwahili this morning – just one of the many things on my ‘to do’ list as I start my year based in Kenya as The Water Projects ‘man on the ground’. I joined up with Peter Chasse and the team about a year ago as a volunteer working with one of our implementing partners here. After 6 months my role changed, I’m no longer a volunteer, and I’m now responsible for all things related to our water, sanitation and hygiene projects – our WASH program.

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