Kenya: A well is like life insurance

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The centre of Kenya rainfall is low. Plants dry up and the cattle of nomadic people scarcely find water.

The Anglican Church of Kenya’s development arm, with the support of ACT Alliance member Bread for the World, helps people cope with the harsh living conditions in this part of the country.

The old man glances at the small cloud in the sky. The day before, this wise man had been praying for rain. This is the people’s last resort. But that didn’t work. For 19 months, no rain had fallen on central Kenya. Most of the harvest had dried up.

Paulo Losusu is tired and returns to his village, Ngombe-Zebu. A well pumps water from a depth of 100m beneath the earth.  When it comes up, camels and goats drink it.  So, pastoralists do not face problems with the drought.

The well is like a life insurance. “Without it I could not think of living here,” pastoralist John Echwa says.  With money from Bread for the World and the Anglican Church, Christian Community Services built the well in the late 1980s. Before, the pastoralists had to fight lions and crocodiles at the rare natural water holes.

The cattle is all for the people. John Echwa pushes his baseball cap back and looks with agronomist Jane Kaburu at a goat. “The animal has parasites,” she says after having looked into goat’s mouth.

Jane Kaburu helps the people to look after their cattle. Nearly every day she drives her motorbike to the settlements, the places where people from the government never go.  With the support of Bread for the World, CCS sends experts to the people living in remote areas. They also bring a mobile pharmacy. CCS reaches out to about 100,000 people, bringing them medical help as well.

Twenty kilometres southwest of Ngombe-Zebu Jane Kaburu faces a new problem. A part of a well is not working properly, allowing only a little water to run. Jane Kaburu takes her mobile. “Do you have spare screws?” she asks one of the contact people in Ngombe-Zebu. Then she lifts her thumb and the people cheer. They know that the water will be running soon.