From Crocodiles and Illness to Jewelry and Education with The Samburu Project

Dryness, Distance, Illness, and Crocodiles are no match for people working together.

The Samburu District is located in the Great Rift Valley, one of the driest places in Kenya

Most streams in the Great Rift Valley in northern Kenya run dry for months at a time. In the Wamba area, a high rate of waterborne disease struck adults and children alike. To make matters worse, at all times, people had to avoid the crocodiles when they fetched water ten minutes away at the riverbed.

Addressing the Crisis

The Samburu Project, a Blue Planet Network member for several years, works closely with local communities during every step of the process. For this project, the people in the Wamba area first applied to The Samburu Project community-based organization (CBO) for a well to be drilled in their community. Once their application was accepted, they work alongside The Samburu Project and their hydrogeologist to select a location for their well.

Each community, represented by a women’s group, signs a contract agreeing to specific conditions and responsibilities, including:

• Clearing an area for the well site
• Collecting and delivering sand, concrete and hardcore
• Participating in maintenance, hygiene and sanitation workshops
• Creating a community fund for ongoing well maintenance.

By working together and using Blue Planet Network’s platform to plan and manage it all, the Wamba area saw drastic change for the better once the project started.

Maria is chairwoman for the well initiative.

Sustaining Impact

With funding from Woodside Elementary School in Woodside, California, a permit for drilling was obtained from the District Water Office, a branch of the Kenyan Ministry of Water. Then, working with the community, The Samburu Project’s community-based organization dug a well about 50 meters deep and installed an Afridev Handpump.

The well provides access to water for 1,050 people from 10 villages. The best part? Instead of dealing with crocodiles, women in the area can deal in jewelry. As it turns out, many tourists travel through the area, especially during the summer time. During the high season, they can make a total of 5,000-15,000 KES ($62.50 – $187.50) each day! With water they not only spread their culture, but also make a living.

Education also has been invigorated, thanks to access to clean, safe water. As Maria says, “Our community was able to start a preschool where toddlers as young as two years old now attend. 40 people, most of the children (about 20 or so) now attend school whether it be nursery, primary or secondary. Most of the school children are girls, mainly because there are more girls than boys in this village.”

Continuing the Legacy

Project Manager Lucas Lekwale, who is a Samburu tribesman and member of the District Development Committee and the NGO Representative to the District, helped organize a water committee to make sure the wells are maintained and access is granted fairly to community members. Each household contributes to a well maintenance fund that is used to buy parts in the event of a breakdown.

The role of The Samburu Project is to monitor this process, providing backup when needed. And, thanks to Blue Planet Network’s members and services, they have all the resources they need to ensure long-term success for the people of the Wamba area.