The Nyanya Water Project, Kisesini

Kenyan Alliance:Global Health Partnerships, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Last summer, Peter Wahome, an Ashoka Fellow, Community Development Leader and Crafts Distributor in Nairobi, was introduced to The Nyanya Project. Peter took TNP to a small village called Kisesini several hours drive from Nairobi and located in the dry countryside southeast of the town of Machakos.

Last year, Peter had assisted Global Health Partnerships, an NGO of health care professionals from the University of New Mexico, in building the village’s first medical clinic which opened in September, 2007.

There are no roads in this region; normally, the village’s sick must walk or ride by donkey or ox carts to the nearest clinic more than 20 miles away.Some mothers in labor die en route. The main water source is from a stream more than 12 miles away.Grandmothers, women and young girls must walk this distance each day to fetch water. In addition, many of the village women are grandmothers who are raising grandchildren orphaned by AIDS. When asked which of the women in Kisesini were grandmothers caring for grandchildren orphaned by AIDS, most of the women’s hands went up.

Women here also make traditional sisal bags called kiondos. The Nyanya Project originally considered finding ways to help grandmothers market these beautiful bags. Upon visiting the village, The Nyanya Project saw an immediate need for something bigger – water. When hearing of the village’s dire need for water, The Nyanya Kisesini Water Project was born. Grandmothers are currently being organized into a cooperative that will run the well, once built. They will charge other people in the area a few shillings for water and generate ongoing income to help with their families’ needs.

The Nyanya Kisesini Water Project, like other TNP projects in Kenya, includes training the grandmothers in the proper care of HIV-positive family members.

Donations, to date, have covered the expense of the geological survey that determined the two water sources for the village.Approximately $50,000 is needed to dig a borehole well for the community.

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