This week, families and communities in Mwatate, Kenya will have a new source of water and a new hope for consistent supplies of food thanks to a borehole being drilled by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) and its local partner, ACK (Anglican Church of Kenya) Pwani Christian Community Services.
The project is part of CRWRC’s East Africa drought response in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Last year, several parts of Eastern Africa experienced the worst drought in the region in 60 years. As a result, millions of families were in need of assistance. CRWRC provided emergency food, but has also explored ways to improve infrastructure so that communities could have more reliable sources of water in the future. This included working with community members to build water pans that could capture and retain rainfall during the rainy season. It also included installing rain harvesting systems on numerous schools and drilling a borehole.
“This borehole will produce a good supply of safe, quality water because it is so deep,” said Hilda Van Gyssel, who is serving as an International Relief Manager with CRWRC in Kenya with her husband, John.
The borehole in Mwatate is 300 feet – or 95 meters – deep. The site was chosen because it sits in a low level valley and the lush vegetation was proof of water nearby compared to the dry land around it. The site will also provide water to 12 area communities.
“The drilling went well, although they did encounter rock after about 78 meters,” said Van Gyssel. “Within a good day they had already gone as far down as they needed to.”
Next they put in casing, flushed out the hole, and then set to work building a cement base and pump.
“It should be a very high producing well,” said Van Gyssel. “The first estimate says that it is producing 15,000 liters of water per hour!”
On Thursday, the team will conduct a 24 hour test of the borehole’s water supply. The area communities are invited to come to this test with their water containers as there will be lots of free water being let out.
Once this testing is done, the pump will be hooked up to a pipeline and water will brought to a large holding tank and piped out to the various communities. When completed, this borehole will supply water to approximately 2,500 households.
“The people here have touched us to the core. They are mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, children and grandchildren who, even at this point, are still struggling to have food in their homes,” said Van Gyssel. “They are incredibly thankful for the opportunities CRWRC has given them. They are a beautiful people, our sisters and brothers, and we celebrate with them. The t-shirts we are wearing say, ‘Water is life....Maji ni uhai’. Amen to that! God is good!”
By Kristen deRoo VanderBerg, CRWRC Communications