Kaemong’or Community Borehole in Turkana

I could read the excitement on our Managing Director, Justus Waimiri’s, face as Missionary Kang left our office at Ciata City Mall along Kiambu Road that bright Friday morning. The big smiles on both their faces and the warmth with which they shook hands and said their goodbyes announced to the rest of the staff that the two-hour meeting was a highly successful one. We all knew that some good news was underway. One could tell…and the question lingering in our minds was …what exactly was the good news??

“Yes!!!! It’s a borehole!” Justus finally exclaimed to feed our curious peering faces. The field crew couldn’t hide their excitement, and neither could the office staff. We all wanted to know….”A borehole! Where? How deep? When do we start?”

Such is the unbridled enthusiasm with which the Water for the World (W4W) staff receives news of any new borehole project. Even after being in business for 10 years, that excitement of the child about to open a gift box on Christmas morning never gets old. And neither is the intimate camaraderie that comes when a group of people work closely with one another to make a difference in the lives of some of the most underserved and far-flung communities in Kenya.

Water for the World (W4W) is a world class social enterprise company that partners with under-served communities, institutions and private sector entities to enable them access clean, safe and reliable water through cost efficient service, high quality and innovative solutions. W4W is registered by the Government of Kenya, and is licensed as a water driller and contractor by the Ministry of Water & Irrigation and the National Construction Authority (NCA).

As the details of the discussion between Justus and Missionary Kang emerged, we leant that our next borehole project would be in Kaemong’or, a village in Turkana South Sub County. Turkana happens to be the largest county in the country located in the northern part of Kenya, approximately 600 km from Nairobi. The community borehole would be sponsored by Ms Lee Ji Young from South Korea.

THE JOURNEY

Water shortage is the biggest challenge in Turkana, which is mainly inhabited by a pastoralist community. Over 500,000 residents of Turkana County have no source of clean water for domestic use and for their animals. And it is with this knowledge in mind and armed with our tools of trade that the W4W drilling crew embarked on the journey to Kaemong’or village. Our convoy consisted of trucks loaded with drilling equipment such as a drilling rig, casings, rods, drilling hammer, gravel, drilling foam among others.


Turkana here we come!!!

It took three dry, dusty and sweat drenched days to get the whole drilling convoy to site. We were expecting, but were not quite prepared for the very hot February sun, dry winds, extremely high temperatures, rough terrain and the long torturous 700-kilometer journey. Least of all, we never thought that at some point we would need to dig ourselves out of the sand!!

Oooops! Digging one of the trucks out of the sand

THE DRILLING EXPERIENCE

On 8th February 2019 we started drilling, surrounded by the hopeful residents of Kaemong’or village eagerly wait for signs of water, any water.  

Drrrr….ddrrrr….ddrrrrr….. was the only noise heard as the rods went down the hole.
1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours of drilling with only massive clouds of dry dust to show for it!

It now seemed like the residents were losing hope of ever getting water and some were even leaving dejectedly. The ones that remained were restive, anxious and fidgety. “What if there is no water?” their representative asked one of our crew members. He smiled back at him reassuredly as if to say “Patience pays so the only choice it to keep calm, wait and pray hard!”

Drilling continued for quite some time, but with renewed hope since we now saw wet soil coming out of the hole. And behold, the 1st aquifer was hit at 78m!

“We’ve found water!” the driller burst out, laughing loudly. “We have finally found water!!” the men shouted their approval as women ululated. Kids simply jumped up and down and run around shouting their glee in the local language. “Now even the food we ate can settle nicely in our stomachs” signed one of the older men rubbing his belly mischievously.

Surrounded by all that excitement from the residents, the now muddy crew was motivated to give the final push in delivering water to the villagers of Kaemong’or. Drilling stopped at 107m, having hit two aquifers that yielded 8m³/hr. All that was achieved in one day!

WE’VE HIT WATER! NOW WHAT?

After taking a rest on day 1, we were back to work the following day to install the casings.

Casings are 6 inch diameter steel pipes that line the whole length of the drilled hole to keep it from caving and to prevent surface contaminants from entering the borehole. Welding and installing the casings took the whole of day 2.

On 11th February, 2019 we woke up prepared to do a borehole test known as test-pumping. It measures how much water can be sustainably pumped for an acceptable amount of drawdown in water level and to determine the borehole yield. Test pumping is usually done for 24 straight hours. The test confirmed that the yield was 8m³/hr. That was quite a satisfactory yield!

It is just amazing how a remarkable difference was made in a span of just TWO days.  The community will now have enough water for domestic use, their animals, irrigation and commercial farming, and any other use that they would like. This saved women and children from long and at times dangerous journeys to distant water points that are often shared between humans and animals. The impure water causes illnesses that raise child mortality and diminish the quality for life of the residents.  During hot seasons, domestic animals often die from hunger and exhaustion as they move between distant watering points. Generally, life is much harder in any place with an absence of abundant clean water.

The water finds a community that is eagerly waiting to have its taste and quench their thirst that they even want to fill all the jerricans before we are completely done. They are wowed!!!!

Hurray!!!! And now with the “drilling manenos” over, it’s a mission accomplished for the W4W crew as they leave a satisfied community that couldn’t hide their excitement for the quality service delivered with dignity.

Kudos to the W4W team Paul, Dennis, Zack, Peter and Alex for a job well done, and thanks to the Kaemong’or community and Missionary Kang for entrusting and giving us the privilege to serve them!