Giving Access to Water for the Needy Communities and Churches in Arid Counties of Northern Kenya


In terms of poverty and underdevelopment, the counties that form the Northern and Eastern regions of Kenya top the list. Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu and Isiolo as well as Garissa, Mandera and Wajir have an arid to semi-arid climate, with the frequent and devastating droughts. The region is home to nomadic pastoralist tribes who have remained in great socio-economic deprivation in relation to the rest of the country. The region is defined by high levels of poverty, illiteracy, hunger, malnutrition and insecurity.

The inhabitants of the region derive their livelihood from nomadic pastoralism. Agriculture is still a new concept to the region. Ongoing efforts to introduce dry-land agriculture is slowed down by hot dry weather, low unreliable rainfall and largely unfertile soils. Most of the basic food stuff is be obtained from outside the region at high costs while the meager products from the region fetch low prices because of unfavourable market conditions attributable to bad roads.

Armed conflict is rampant as different tribes and clans compete for scarce resources such as grazing pasture and water. Poverty, hunger and lack of employment opportunities among the youth contribute to cattle rustling and occasional banditry.

Children playing outside the family dwelling shelter which is typical housing for nomadic pastoralist tribes of northern and eastern Kenya

This region is the least reached with the Gospel of Jesus. Missionaries in the region cope with many challenges such as insufficient livelihood basics. Missionaries from outside the region have to struggle for acceptance among locals where cultural beliefs and Islam still reign supreme. Locations close to the Ethiopian and Somali border are predominantly Muslim with high religious intolerance against Christianity. Here, violence against Christians is a common occurrence.


In arid lands, water is a strong foundation on which all other socio-economic development can be built. A borehole equipped with a solar pumping system can set a village of 1,500 people on the pathway of social and economic transformation. It will alleviate water scarcity and save time and labour spent daily on fetching water. The saved time will be used on other productive activities. Children especially girls who are traditionally tasked with the responsibility of fetching household water, will have time to go to school. Clean water will bring improvement in health especially for pregnant and lactating women and infants. There will be a reduction in water-borne and water related diseases.

Lenayapa, a housewife who had never before practiced agriculture is now able to get fresh food and to earn extra income from the horticulture project facilitated by the W4W & FGCK water project in Loglogo village, Marsabit County.

In these arid lands, water is a key tool in Christian evangelism: a survey of Christian Missionary work in the Northern Frontier area shows that placing of essential services such as water facilities in the management of the church can have multiple positive impact on evangelism. Water opens the door to socialization and integration across tribes and cultures thereby paving the way for gospel outreach. Additionally, a well-managed water supply system with a good water revenue collection strategy and good financial management is able to meet the cost of replacing any failed components whenever they occur. It will also generate surplus revenue that can be used for other church and community projects.


The main goal of the project is to initiate transform society, using water as the foundation and catalyst for multi-sector development. The project aims to increase access to safe water as a first step towards community empowerment and inclusive development. Community involvement is a key element to the success of the project. Inclusivity builds a high degree of commitment and a strong sense of ownership among the beneficiary community which in turn leads to self-driven and sustainable society development. The project objective is construct water facilities comprising of boreholes equipped with solar pumping systems which will be managed by the church on behalf of the community. Management committees will be set up and will undergo training in community water supply management. The training imparts practical knowledge and skills in operation & maintenance, revenue collection and financial management.


Outcome 1: Clean water closer to the village


  • A successfully drilled borehole
  • Solar powered water pumping system is installed
  • Access to safe water for at least 1,500 people, each getting a minimum of 20 litres per day
  • Water available for domestic animals
  • Water available for production of horticultural crops by irrigation
  • Water available for supporting a tree nursery project

Outcome 2: Knowledge and skills; change of attitude and behavior.


  • Increased knowledge and skills to the community. Through empowerment, the community is able to identify its own problems and to come up with solutions.
  • Change of Behaviour and attitude as a result of new knowledge of which the indicators are willingness to participate in development activities.
  • Improved economic status resulting from the new-found ability to engage in income-generating activities due to water availability.
  • Increased sense of ownership of the completed projects, which is key to project sustainability.
  • Increased knowledge and skills in management of the completed project
  • Better understanding of the project by the community, resulting in stronger link and support.
  • Increased collaboration between local government leaders, Church leaders and community leaders. This is achieved through a well-planned mobilization process.

Outcome 3: Improved health, Food Security and Nutrition


  • Reduced cases of water-borne and water related diseases resulting from access to safe water.
  • Reduced morbidity and mortality rates especially among infants.
  • Increased food security and nutrition through new agricultural projects resulting from water availability.

Outcome 4: Poverty Reduction through Increased Income


  • Reduction on money spent on buying water at high prices from water tankers and donkey-carts.
  • Increased income through revenue collected from water selling.
  • Increased income through sale of horticultural produce grown using water from the new water project.
  • Increased income as time saved from trekking long distances to fetch water is converted to economically productive work.

Outcome 5: Social impact.


  • Increased enrolment in schools for children especially girls as they will no longer have to trek for long distances to fetch water.
  • Overall improvement in school performance because the time spent on fetching water will be directed to studies.
  • Reduced women’s workload on fetching water. Time and energy saved will be spent on economically productive work such as engaging in micro enterprise and learning new skills.

Outcome 6: Environmental Impact.


  • Launching of tree nursery for production of tree seedlings as a result of water availability.
  • Imparting new knowledge and skills to the local community on environmental conservation such as tree planting and conserving existing trees and ecosystem.

Outcome 7: Support to the Church.


  • The church is empowered to administer to both spiritual and physical needs of the community.
  • The church is empowered to take an active role and have a stake in community development projects.
  • The church is empowered to take the role of steward of community projects.
  • Increased acceptance of the church in society especially in deeply cultural or Muslim regions.
  • Creating a more conducive and enabling climate for advancing the Gospel of Jesus.
  • Empowering the church to generate its own income locally.
  • Opening doors for the church in regions of high religious intolerance.


Sustainability of the water project is assured by the following factors:

  • Community & Church participation. The two main stake-holders will collaborate at all stages of the project. Members of the water committee will be elected from the church and the community and will be entrusted with the management of the water system on behalf of all stake holders.
  • Community and Water Committee Training. Training is a key strategy in project sustainability. The water management committee undergoes a package of trainings facilitated by W4W trainers. The topics are tailor-made to suit the needs of each committee and are centered on best practices of community water management. The topics include operation and maintenance of their water system, tariff collection, financial management and the concept of project sustainability. The training is designed to inculcate a strong sense of ownership among the committee members as well as to increase their scope of knowledge on the great potential of their water project in terms of income generation. The training stirs and challenges the participants into creativity, innovation and to think outside the cultural box.
  • Water revenue: Water users will be charged an agreed fee for water consumption. Revenue collected will be banked on regular basis. Part of the accumulated fund will be set aside as a reserve against repair and maintenance of the system while the rest will support church/ community projects.
  • Horticultural farming: The management committee will be trained in horticulture. Crops will be cultivated using water from the project. Money raised from the crop sales will supporting the project and the church.
  • Afforestation program: A tree seedlings nursery will be initiated. Families will be trained in afforestation and will be supplied with tree seedlings at a fee. The money raised will help in sustaining the project.


The cost of drilling and equipping a borehole varies according to a number of factors such as ground water depth, ground formation and site proximity. The table below only a cost indication for typical project.



1. Drilling of borehole to 200m, including all standard operations and inputs


2. Installation of submersible pump including solar modules and support structure


3. Installation of10,000 litre elevated tank 6m high steel tower with all plumbing


4. Total


Contingencies @ 5%







Water Purification System: Most boreholes in the region produce clean, safe water. But in some locations, a borehole may yield impure water. In the past, such boreholes were either closed or the water was be restricted to animal use only. However, the challenge of impure water can now be solved using solar powered purification system. The water purification system is only applicable where borehole water quality does not meet the permitted standard for human consumption. Installation of a purification system comes as an extra cost.

The solar powered water purification machine that was installed by W4W at Swari community borehole in Samburu County.

Prepaid Water meter. For a community water supply system to run sustainably, it must have a reserve fund for repairs and replacement of parts. For this reason, water users must pay small amount of money for their daily water. The task of collecting this money can be tedious and costly because an attendant must be at the tap-stand all the time. A new technology in form or a smart prepaid meter is now available for efficient and easy tariff collection. Each household is issued with a special chip into which they can load tokens electronically using a phone. They then use the chip to access water. This system is a recommended as a measure for efficient tariff collection and a key tool for financial management. Installation of a prepaid meter is an extra cost.


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