GRACELAND AFRICA MISSION
We promote development by enhancing access to fresh water in arid and semi-arid lands in Kenya (ASAL). Our driving force is in helping people become stronger, more confident, and powerful in their own lives, their community, and their nation.
The arid and semi arid lands (ASAL’s) that cover approximately 80 percent of Kenya are characterized by water shortages and drought due to unreliable and poorly distributed rains. Kenyans living in ASAL areas experience food insecurity and illness as a result of insufficient water for agriculture and domestic use. Rainfall in these areas is short-lived, heavy, episodic events with intermittent dry spells.
Many remote rural communities in the ASAL do not have access to water. Residents must walk long distances (5 to 10+ km) to collect water. Children commonly miss school because of the burden to collect water, which they often get by digging holes in dried out riverbeds. When water is at a premium, out of necessity it is used for cooking and watering crops and livestock. Personal hygiene suffers and as a result many preventable illnesses result, which can cause significant health challenges for young children and the elderly.
The highly variable rainfall patterns leave smallholder farmers vulnerable to the elements. This insecurity leads some of the farmers to delay planting their crops until they feel assured that the rains will not fail. This practice ultimately reduces the growing season for their crops. Other farmers, who have failed to realize a crop in the preceding year are often led to consume their seed. Kenyans living in these areas find themselves particularly at the mercy of precipitation patterns as they are unable to capture the rainfall from heavy downpours which could otherwise be used to mitigate the dry spells.
The drought conditions of 2017 that are expected to persist into 2018, have left 3.4 million people severely food insecure and an estimated 500,000 people without access to water. An estimated 482,882 children require treatment for acute malnutrition, including 104,614 who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Eighty-eight per cent of these children are from 23 arid and semi-arid counties. Drought conditions have led to declines in school attendance and school participation and rising dropout rates (Unicef, 4 Jan 2018).
Rain water harvesting has been identified as an economical and sustainable means of reducing the negative effects of seasonal drought in Kenya (1). Harvesting rainwater involves using gutters and storage tanks to collect and store rainwater. Since 2011 Graceland Africa Mission has implemented a number of community water initiatives in the ASAL’s of the Eastern Province of Kenya. Our water harvesting projects involve the installation of gutters onto buildings with a large roof catchment area and the attachment of 8,000 or 10,000 litre water tanks.
In addition to harvesting rainwater, Graceland Africa Mission has developed programs to supply fresh water to communities during the dry seasons and seasons of prolonged drought. When the rainy season has ended, water is purchased and delivered by truck to replenish the water tanks. This fresh water is sold to the community are fair market prices, thereby providing remote communities access to fresh water year round. Profits from the sale of rainwater are used to develop the community.
Graceland Africa Mission, together with partner organizations, initiated the Mwingi Water Harvesting Project in January 2017. The project purchased a truck to transport water to villages (10,000 litres of water per truck). Water is sold to villagers at fair prices (2) providing substantial benefits to many people (i.e. 3000 people at Nyaani location).
1. Kenya Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) 2008-2011 Drought, 2012
2. Local water prices are 50 shillings or more per 20 litre jerry can. We are able to sell water at 25-30 shillings per 20 litre jerry can. Often the elderly who cannot afford to purchase water are given water free of charge.