Access to clean water is a common problem across Kenya, yet one solution can be found as simply as looking in the earth itself.
CWS helped Mrs. Ngotho's community build a rock water catchment system made from stones gathered right in her village.
"At first, we were unsure about the idea, and curious about how the rock catchment would work," says Ngotho. "Eventually, though, we decided to go ahead with the project."
Avoiding the daily trip to search for water was an incentive to give the simple solution a try.
"Most of the time, we had to walk about 12 miles (round trip) for a jerry can of water," says Mrs. Ngotho, community member and chairlady of the rock catchment project committee in Kaikungu village, Mwingi District. "We had no water for ourselves, and our livestock were all dying."
Some 106 people from six villages got involved with the construction of the catchment. They formed a committee of 13 people--three men and 10 women--and the community members helped with the concrete work: carrying rock, crushing stones and any other tasks that needed to be done.
When the rock catchment was complete, the community installed a large tank to store water, as well as a water kiosk where people can go to collect the water.
When it rained, water filled the catchment. "We never knew that so much water could be collected from that slab of rock," exclaims Ngotho. The catchment and the storage tank provide water for domestic use, and for their livestock and crops. Community members are glad that they no longer have to rely on sparse rains to water their gardens. This past year, they had their first maize harvest in seven years.
Having water nearby has made a big difference for the women and children in the community who, before, spent much of their time searching for water. Children are now able to spend more time studying, and women are able to make handicrafts to better support their families. Many of them are making ropes and baskets to sell, and some are being hired to make bench terraces on hillsides to control runoff and erosion. They are also spending more time in the garden, making the community more food secure.
"We would like to expand the catchment area, raise the rock catchment wall and put in another tank," says Ngotho. "We want to learn about project management, organic farming, hygiene and sanitation, and we plan to establish tree nurseries to grow indigenous and exotic trees, including fruit trees."
Five million Pakistanis remain homeless as a result of the massive monsoon rains that submerged 20 percent of Pakistan and killed 2,000 people beginning last July. The worst floods to hit Pakistan in 80 years left Pakistanis needing years of support to recover infrastructure, jobs, housing and farmland.
Many of the 20 million people affected have resumed their lives. However, the presence of silt, standing water and saturated soil make rebuilding homes and restoring farmland difficult or impossible in some areas. Though Church World Service and other humanitarian organizations quickly jumped in to help families affected by the flooding, millions of people, particularly women and children, remain vulnerable.
With Pakistanis now in the grip of winter, the priorities are to help provide shelter, health services--particularly treatment of respiratory illnesses--food, clean water and the restoration of livelihoods.
"All of this needs to be done quickly regardless of people's beliefs, race or where they live," says Marvin Parvez, CWS Asia/Pacific Regional Coordinator. "If this is not attended to by the international community, the consequences for survivors are going to be far-reaching."
CWS flood response since July has included the distribution of 24,200 100-lb. family food packages, benefitting 137,400 people, as well as 2,010 tents and 1,000 plastic sheets, benefitting 88,000 people. CWS is also providing health centers and 10 mobile health units through which physicians have conducted more than 100,000 consultations.