New well provides hope as Kenya drought drags on


Nkoisusu villagers used to gather water from a dirty pond.

(Photo courtesy Kenya Hope)
By Katey Hearth – September 11, 2019

Kenya (MNN) — Severe drought continues to ravage East Africa. No water means no food, and the number of people relying on food aid in Kenya rose from 1.1 million in February to 2.6 million last month.

Earlier this week, Kenyan authorities paid nearly $3 million USD to 15,000 farmers to help them keep their livestock alive. At least 2,000 animals have reportedly perished due to drought in one county alone.

Drought or no, it’s not easy to locate water in the remote communities where Kenya Hope works. “It’s typical for them to walk miles to go get water from a river and then have to carry it back home,” Executive Director Joy Mueller tells us.

“[In drought] it’s even worse because if the rivers dry up, then it’s even a harsher, more serious situation.”

The importance of clean water…

According to the World Health Organization, 785 million people worldwide don’t have safe, drinkable water — water that’s located in or near their home, available when needed, and free from contamination. This includes 144 million people who drink directly from “surface” sources like streams or lakes.

Dirty water is a common problem in remote Kenya.

“Probably 95% of the people we work with do not have access to clean water,” Mueller says. “We have had people die from parasites or waterborne diseases.”

Before Kenya Hope dug them a well, villagers in Nkoisusu used a large hole in the ground as their water source. “When it rains, all the water collects there,” Mueller explains.

“This watering hole is not used just by the people, it’s used by all of the animals… goats, sheep, zebras, wildebeest, elephants.”

Animal waste isn’t the only thing polluting this water, Mueller adds. “They will spray their livestock for ticks and other things, and these chemicals go into the water.”

Earlier this year, Kenya Hope teamed up with a California church to supply the people of Nkoisusu with clean, drinkable water. You can read about it here in Kenya Hope’s June newsletter, or watch this video summary.

As the drilling began, Mueller says her team wasn’t sure what to expect. “We’re in the Rift Valley, so sometimes your water can be salty. We didn’t know what kind of water we would get out of the ground,” she explains.

Thankfully, after drilling more than 600 feet into the earth, they found “liquid gold.”

“As the water came up and we tested it and even tasted it, it has almost zero amount of salt. It is the most beautiful, clean, sweet water and we’re just really praising the Lord,” Mueller says.

…and Living Water

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.