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Mara Community Water Projects

We're sometimes asked why we have water projects when we're at heart an education and sustainable empowerment nonprofit. We learned from our community here that access to safe, clean water is the single greatest immediate challenge for 1000s of families in the Maasai Mara. When we realized the scope of the problem, we knew we needed to help. Building upon the learnings of our Lemek Hills Water Project, we were able to scale this initiative to communities in need. 

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Unsafe water poses a serious challenge to people's health. Many families here get their water from open sources like pits and rivers shared with wildlife and livestock, with devastating effects on health. An estimated 80% of hospitalizations in this area are related to consuming unsafe water.

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Sources of water are few and far between, putting a crushing burden on women. It's the responsibility of women to fetch water, and they often need to walk many kilometers to find it — and then carry it back home in a 20-liter bottle (44 lbs) on their back. This can take most of the day, with serious consequences on their health and their opportunities to thrive.

We're addressing this at the community level in 3 ways:

  • Solar-Pumped Groundwater Systems that put water and taps inside communities

  • Rainwater Harvesting Systems, when a smaller scale solution makes sense

  • Home and school based portable water filters

COMMUNITY GROUNDWATER SYSTEMS

So far, we've built Groundwater Systems in 5 large communities of the Mara with our Kenyan engineering partner BlueTik Front. Each project begins with hydrogeological analysis to determine if the site is even suitable for drilling. This checks for specific concerns in groundwater in this region, including fluoride. If a location is determined suitable with water healthy for people and minimal environmental impact, a Groundwater System can be developed with solar-pumped borehole 200+ meters deep, 20,000 liters of water storage, and taps within the community for year-round access. Sample hydrogeo report 

Case Study: Enoorokon

In 2024, we built a Groundwater System for the community around Enoorokon village in Siana Ward of the Mara, providing water for 2700 people (400 families) along with a school. 

This was a challenging area for access to water, as previously women here were walking 12 kilometers every day to fetch water from a river in distant hills. Now they fill their bottles from a central water point with 8 taps right in the community.

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Imagine walking 12 kilometers with 20 liters (44 lbs) on your back.

RAINWATER HARVESTING

In some cases, Rainwater Harvesting works well. If rainwater is not adequate year-round, this may be combined with other sources.

We installed Rainwater Harvesting at our Women's Work Center, drained from the aluminum sheet roof. The women were previously getting water from the nearby Talek River, which is contaminated with fecal matter from animals. This system is not far from where the women live and easy to access when they're at the Center. We recommend filtering the water at home and provide portable filters for this purpose. 

Future plans including scaling this initiative to smaller community projects such as the Manyatta Libraries. 

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PORTABLE WATER FILTERS

We distribute filtering systems donated by our health partner MAMA Project to families and to schools and small communities. Stacking bucket systems for home use incorporate Sawyer filters, and the larger community systems are made with LifeStraw filters. Both are state-of-the-art membrane filters. Aquatabs are also provided for removing viruses. These filters are especially valuable for communities who get their water from surface-area sources such as rivers. It's a simple approach that works.

 

Women at the Oliveseed Women's Work Center were trained by the team at MAMA Project on assembling, using, and maintaining these systems. They now teach other women in their community.

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At the Women's Work Center, women assemble water filters for homes.

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