Access to safe water and sanitation facilities in Kenya has traditionally been a challenge, particularly in rural areas. In Ichangipusi village in Narok South District, the primary source of water used to be a laga (a seasonal riverbed).
Villagers would journey more than three hours to collect water from unprotected, shallow wells dug in the riverbed. Children, mostly girls, would bring containers with them to school so they could fetch water on their long seven-kilometre trek back home.
This labourious process to collect water came to an end in 2010, when Operation Eyesight developed a borehole in Ichangipusi village to help in the fight against trachoma, a painful but preventable eye disease that causes blindness.
The borehole is connected to a diesel-powered pumping system, which pumps water to a 10,000-litre storage tank. The water is then distributed to a communal water point, which serves about 3,100 people.
The availability of fresh water allowed for a school to be opened in the village in May 2013. Before the school was built, children would not start school until they were 10 to 12 years old and able to walk the long distance to Endonyo Narasha Primary School. The new school, however, caters to younger, pre-primary school children. It currently has 76 students (35 boys and 41 girls) between the ages of three and seven. School management plans to eventually expand the school to full primary school status, meaning children of all ages will be able to attend.
With support from the community, school management initiated a vigorous water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program at the school. They constructed two eco-latrines (facilities used as toilets) and strategically placed washing stations outside the latrines and classrooms.
Clean water and proper hygiene help prevent the spread of trachoma, which otherwise spreads easily through contact with eye discharge from infected people’s hands, towels and clothing, and through direct transmission by flies. Fresh water and sanitation also dramatically improve the general health and prosperity of the whole community.
The community started a small garden next to the borehole. Using water from the borehole, they grow vegetables, such as spinach, kale, carrots and corn. The school is able to feed its students using produce from the garden.
It is incredible to see the impact that one borehole can have on an entire village! Our donors truly are making a difference in the lives of others. Thank you! To learn more about Operation Eyesight’s trachoma projects in Narok, visit our website.