Water is life. It can sometimes be easy for us to take this precious resource for granted thanks to its ready availability here in the United States, but access to water is a daily concern and threat in many regions of Africa.
In 2009, Kenya experienced its worst drought in over 40 years. The lack of rainfall that persisted for more than 11 months that year caused water shortages throughout the nation, creating even greater difficulties in the communities affected. Not only did people lack water essential for their own health, but there was also no water to sustain crops – leading to massive crop failures that sunk the region into famine and further poverty.
Without a stable supply of water, our partners the Lewa Children’s Home in Eldoret, Kenya could not provide for the 500-600 people who depend on the complex every day. As a result of the devastating drought of 2009, the Lewa Children’s Home complex, including nearby Baraka Farm and Kipkeino Primary School, realized the need for improved water management to prevent future disasters. We at Bread and Water for Africa® worked with the Lewa Children’s Home to combat the water shortage by supporting forward thinking projects and stability for the Home in the future.
Water-harvesting provides great benefits and a unique stability to areas where rainfall is sporadic. This type of water management allows for water to be stored through extended periods of drought to be used for irrigation, as well as drinking water for animals and – after filtration- for people.
After extensive research into the technology and system that would be most successful and sustainable for the Lewa Children’s Home Complex, Jos Creemers and Phyllis Keino determined that a two reservoir system to harvest and store the water was the best approach. Thanks to the rallying and support of all of our loyal and compassionate donors, we were able to support Lewa’s installation of this water-harvesting system just in time for the next drought.
Thanks to the new ability for the reservoirs to capture rainfall during the rainy season (however short it may be in a given year), and the capacity of the equipment to actually prevent any evaporation of the stored water – the home is able to withstand droughts by planning and rationing the stored water. Upon implementation, the first water reservoir was completely filled in just six weeks! Needless to say, the water-harvesting project has been a great success! This water management project provides the Lewa Children’s Home with improved water and food security, which allows the complex to focus on increased care of its beneficiaries rather than on the basic day-to-day survival of the complex.
Although this project has been a huge success, the devastating effects that Lewa Children’s Home faced during the tragic drought of summer 2011 showed us that there is still more that can be done – training, better equipment, and larger storage capacity to name a few. Future investment in the water infrastructure and sustainable water and soil management is still necessary.