Kenya: Joy as First Borehole to End Years of Water Scarcity

18 September 2019

Although Mukengesya is close to the Seven Forks hydropower complex dams and the Masinga-Kitui water pipeline runs through the area, for years residents have faced perennial water shortage.

The village located at the boundary of Kitui and Machakos counties in Masinga constituency has suffered years of neglect by successive administrations and the residents have always felt they are a forgotten lot.

AILMENTS

Mary Muuo, a teacher in the area, said mothers and children have always struggled with common ailments associated with water scarcity.

"After exhausting the little rain water harvested from the roof, my husband who used to work in Nairobi had to bring home at least two 20-litre jerrycans for drinking and cooking every weekend because what was available locally was extremely saline," said Mrs Muuo.

In the era of bottled water, the story of a family in Ukambani preparing tea with water fetched hundreds of kilometres away in Nairobi sounds unbelievable but that was the sad reality facing residents of Mukengesya.

"The only source of water in the village is a seasonal river that is five kilometres away but the water is too saline and unfit for human consumption," said Mrs Muuo.

This is why the residents could hardly believe it when two guests visited the remote arid village and sank a water borehole.

And after years of suffering, it was time to celebrate this week after a borehole sunk in Mrs Muuo's farm yielded fresh water.

URGENT

Dutch national Sven Meijer was touched by the plight of Mukengesya residents during his first visit to Kenya in March this year and decided to sponsor the drilling of a borehole.

Mr Meijer, a real estate tycoon with business interests in London and The Hague was on a mission to establish a children's home in Ukambani region with his Kenyan friend June Kuria.

"I responded to a proposal by Mrs Muuo to establish a children's home to take care of orphaned kids but when I visited area, the acute water shortage shocked me," said the philanthropist.

He said he found the situation so dire that the drilling of the borehole became more urgent than the project he had come for.

From March, Mr Meiyer whose charity work is done through Pure Hope International, a non-profit organisation, swung into action and engaged a local firm to do geological surveys and drill the borehole.

This was completed during his second visit to the are in May after he footed the entire cost of the project.

BURDEN

And to the joy for Mukengesya community, the borehole which cost Sh1.7 million yielded enough water, a relief to more than 500 hundred households.

The residents, who celebrated with song and dance, cannot thank Mr Meijer enough for easing the burden of water scarcity which Kenyan authorities had all but ignored.

The philanthropist told the excited residents during the launch of the borehole that since the water situation had been taken care of, he can now continue with the construction of the children's home.

Mr Meijer said he wants to use his experience in real estate to establish a home for orphans that will be self-sustaining in production of food for the beneficiaries.

Ms Kuria, a volunteer health worker based in London who brought Mr Meijer to Kenya, said it is very rare to find a person who is ready to use his own money to better the lives of the needy in the society.

Ms Kuria thanked the locals for supporting the initiative by donating land for the proposed children home and the Machakos County government for facilitating the project.

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