40 Wells Run Dry
Recently, in the Kajiado district of Kenya, a local charity helped dig 40 shallow wells for a small homestead community. Shortly thereafter, a major horticulture company received a permit from the local Water Services Board to drill a deep borehole within the same community – the water from which is used in growing flowers for export. Because of the new borehole’s impact on the underground water sources, all 40 of the shallow wells in the community dried up. The water has never returned to these wells; and the impact of the time and money invested in them was short-lived because of a lack of knowledge-sharing, strategic planning, and appropriate policy. As a result, children and families in these communities were negatively impacted and they no longer had access to clean water.
This is just one of many reports In Our Own Quiet Way (“Quiet Way”) received as interviews were conducted to determine the challenges and demand for water provision in the dry “arid and semi-arid lands” (ASAL) in Kenya. Despite the investments at various levels, little progress is being made in bringing sustained access to potable water to the people of Kenya. Between 2000 and 2008, the percentage of Kenya’s population with access to clean drinking water increased only 7 percent (from 52% to 59%)1, which does not even account for the increasing population during those years. In this same period, the average improvement for Sub-Saharan Africa was 10%. Kenya currently ranks 21st for the worst levels of access to potable water in the world2.
It is time for a new approach.