Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Kenyan People and the Running Tap

Here’s an email to a friend in whom God seems to be fanning a heart for Kuria, a community in SW Kenya and NE Tanzania. I’ve changed the names to maintain anonymity; however, the task is real and worth passing on.

Nina,

Thanks for checking on the airfare to Nairobi and keep praying. Jonas believes the visit is an important next step. He also told me on Sunday that he would make the trip with us if it helps. (Certainly it will.) We are waiting for a reply from the water team (committee) in Kenya to answer the following questions:


1. If we were to place just one well in their region, which village and location would they select?

2. If we wanted to see 1 well per 250 people in that village, how many wells would we need?

3. Do we need to address the watering of livestock from a dedicated source in order to protect the water source for the people?


Nina, there is a lot to learn and we need to petition God for helpful and knowledgeable helpers. The water project must really be looked at as a water, sanitation, and hygiene education project. There is a need for villagers to educate their community at the onset of the task to build ownership, nurture the local vision, and shore up the conviction that such a project is doable and sustainable.



Next, the community must invest people and money in the project - in keeping with their resources- to prove ownership exists and that the heart will be there to sustain the effort and administrate the societal impact to the village.


Further, the scope of the project must include the provision of latrines/privies, bathing facilities, and instruction on hand washing and home water treatment and storage to address microbial concerns.

Presently, water is boiled for drinking and bathing happens at the river - except for the elderly or infirm. In Jonas's household (a few neighbors included), 12 to 16 people consume about 200 liters of water per day. This fits with the average of 10 to 20 liters consumption per day per person for Sub-Saharan Africa and pit latrines are the nearest things to a toilet.

Moreover, to keep the 200 liter drum topped up, numerous trips for water are required. For Jonas's kin, this is less of an issue because they have a well, bucket, and rope nearby. However, for many it is quite a time consuming chore. (Amazing what we take for granted. For this portion of Kenya, a 4 km walk to queue for a spot at a shallow water source- shared by livestock- is common. In contrast, when we run the tap for two minutes whilst brushing our teeth or shaving or when we flush a new (3.8 liter) toilet (less often for the older ceramic water hogs) three times in the course of a day, we have consumed more water than the average for a Kenyan for the entire day.)

Nina, pray for knowledgeable team members stateside, trustworthy, capable, and affordable well-drilling teammates in Kenya, and a project manager near enough to Kuria to lead the charge on the ground and give direction to the local task. Also, pray for the Village Water and Sanitation committee (presently three men - Jonas's brother, Joseph Nyabasi, a local pastor with mechanical aptitudes and plumbing /piping skills, and Ben Bantu, an elder statesman of sorts that has the respect of the community) that must carry the bulk of the work load of organizing and leading the tasks of educating, maintaining, administrating the initiative and working to sustain the wells, privies and wash facilities when the task is complete.

Pray also for three wells (1 for livestock) as a start and 10 total for two of the many villages in this region. Pray for leaders with the heart to serve, the courage to work, and the vision to pray. Pray too for the resources (this is not a stretch by any means for our Father) to fund the effort (estimated 2,500 to 3,500 US$ per well) and for increasing fellowship, service, and nurture by God’s people here and beyond as we twin with this people to under gird, serve love and befriend to the honor of God and in keeping with His call to “love our neighbors” at home an abroad.

Thom

If you guys in the Blogosphere know anything at all on this matter of clean water, please drop me a note. We are praying and moving and are convinced of God’s command and lead to love this tribe. Two Kurians are part of our community in our village of Stone Mountain. To us, this is not a “feel good short term project” to an unknown people. We genuinely want to share in bettering the lives of our neighbors in E/SE of Migori, Kenya and our Kurian brother, sister, and their young son here and their extended families at home.

All helpful input is welcomed and sought. Cheers and thank you for reading.

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