Choosing All of the Above

  • When the team arrived, there was a desperate need for fresh water.

  • A newly refurbished and working pump ready to provide fresh, clean water to villagers

  • Solar pumping stations created a long-term solution, delivering large amounts of clean water without costly repairs

Choosing All of the Above

Have you ever been sitting at home, watching television and come to a channel showing an advertisement asking  for money for suffering children in Africa?  What did you do?  Change the channel? Call and make a pledge?  Go to Africa to see what it’s “really” like?  Start an ongoing effort to deliver clean water for as many people as you could?  How about all of the above?  All of the above….. now that sounds like a plan.

Prompted by Rotary Scholar, Dennis Onyango in 2001, my wife and I got involved with a Rotary project to deliver clean water to Dennis’ village in the Nyanza Province of Western Kenya.  We weren’t Rotarians, but what Dennis shared prompted us to join Rotary and spend the next 10+ years delivering water and education projects in Africa.

Starting with a simple plan

Our initial effort refurbished 10 hand pumps and utilized an artesian water flow to build an underground water collection system with two new hand pumps.  One year later we completed two new wells with hand pumps and repaired several of the hand pumps we had previously installed which had been worn out from heavy use.  The half-inch steel pins for the handles were completely worn through from constant pumping and the “leathers” in the pumps were worn and needed to be replaced.  Essentially every moving part which could wear out, had worn out.  We learned that we needed to scale the system to meet the need for clean water and hand pumps just wouldn’t do.

Building a long-term solution

Enter solar pumping solutions.  By replacing hand pumps with solar pumps, we have been able to deliver large amounts of clean water for several years without the costly repairs.  We have also reaped additional benefits by adding large storage capacity water towers and the towers have made it possible to deliver clean water over large distances to critical locations like schools, health care clinics and public markets.

At the site we began working at in 2001, we originally repaired two hand pumps, installed a collection system and installed two additional hand pumps.  Today, in 2012, that site now has a 10,000 liter water tower, a distribution system which reaches over 5km and delivers clean water to several draw points including the village market and a health care clinic.

A second large scale system has been started in the Eastern Province of Kenya, where we have completed a borehole expected to produce 64,000 liters of water a day using solar pumping.  This secure site at Munanda Primary School can provide water for a small farm which would enable the school to have a meal program for the 500+ students.

Our work with the people of Kenya, Rotary International, Rotary district 5030 and the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club has been an evolution.  An evolution of relationships, involvement and scope.  Our initial project was in made possible by Rotary District 5030 alone.  Since then we have also partnered with the Rotary club of Aspen, the Bedell World Fund and LEWA Wildlife Conservancy to deliver clean water to over 20,000 people.

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