A lack of clean, accessible water is one of the most pressing issues in Maasailand. The MERC Community Water Project model collaborates to bring safe and adequate water supplies to communities who live far away from clean water sources.
Since the late 1980s, MERC has undertaken over a dozen water projects throughout Maasailand—from Amboseli to Samburu-- in collaboration with churches, civil society organizations and others. We find no shortage of vision and effort in communities across Maasailand, who have been trying to improve the educational opportunities of their children for many years and need only committed partners to succeed.
For the past 8 years, MERC’s water projects have been a product of a very successful collaboration with our good friends in Rotary clubs, especially in Arizona, and Rotary International, as the Rotary community shares with MERC a commitment to water accessibility. These projects are envisioned and directed by the local community and succeed because they model collaboration. They reflect how vital water is to all aspects of Maasai social, political, economic, spiritual and cultural survival, and for that reason water projects will continue to be a MERC priority until the need no longer exists.
A new MERC/Rotary collaboration is underway in a community called Eworr Enkitok, a group of villages in a hilly region of Narok District that supports several thousand people, seven schools, two orphanages and a clinic.
Eorr Enkitok is in urgent need of water. In this arid place, water is only in adequate supply for two months a year—May and November, when it is collected through elaborate roof top catchment systems. The rest of the time, while men take cattle in search of water or in other ways support the economy of the families, women and girls walk long distances. They travel down hill to one of two intermittent rivers, walking 5-10 per trip, sometimes twice a day to bring back water in 20 liter jugs. Women carry these jugs uphill again by strapping them to their foreheads and supporting them on their backs; these straps over time dig grooves into women's skulls and erode their spines, causing painful and permanent disabilities. During the height of the dry seasons and especially during droughts, rivers and stock ponds become stagnate and polluted with animal feces or dead animals. Many streams just dry up. MERC estimates that one-out-of ten persons in Eorr Enkitok suffers from cholera, trachoma or other water borne diseases resulting from this practice. As a result diarrhea is chronic amongst the children (MERC), and is the second leading cause of death among children under 5 years old (WHO).
As they spend much of their lives walking for water, women cannot spend that time instead caring for their children, making and selling beads, taking milk to market to sell, and other activities to earn school fees. Cattle die in large numbers during droughts without access to water at those times, and so the economy of the entire community can be seriously harmed. Finally, local schools are under-enrolled as children are needed at home to care for younger siblings and take over home duties, and schools cannot offer lunch to children, typically walking great distances from home, without water.
This project originated with the community at Eorr Enkitok, which formed a water committee 20 years ago to address this problem. After years of gathering funds, the community was able to pay for a geological water survey. They brought the positive results of this survey to the attention of MERC, and we introduced the community to a team of Rotarians who came to Kenya in 2012 to look for a new project. The water committee has worked tirelessly since. It met with MERC in February, 2013 and drew up a prioritized water distribution plan that is now the preliminary design for this project. This project reflects the crucial knowledge of the Eworr Enkitok community, of everything from rain patterns, wildlife migrations through the area, local leadership of the villages, both men and women, and foot traffic of children traveling to the several schools, all of which is crucial to the success and sustainability of this project .
The Project involves drilling a deep borehole well near the community of Eorr Enkitok, equip it with an electrical submersible pump powered by nearby powerlines, and distribute clean water to the community through a 10 km pipeline and a system of tanks and kiosks. This distribution system will service at least seven schools, an orphanage, two clinics, and three village public areas.
Funding for the Eworr Enkitok Water Project has been provided through Rotary Districts 7670 and 5490 in North Carolina and Arizona in the U.S., Rotary Club of Naivasha, Kenya, East African Rotary District 9212, and Rotary International. Ot.her support was provided by Prescott College who will be undertaking a long term study of the effectiveness of this project beginning in the summer of 2014.
TO SUPPORT THIS AND OTHER PROJECTS GIVE PLEASE MAKE A DONATION TODAY! You can also read more about the success of our ongoing water projects on our Publications Page.