Contributed by Jessica Disney
In 2015 we did a three week safari driving almost to every National Park in Kenya from Amboselli in the South to Masai Mara in the North West. We drove over 3,400 Km from park to park and passed through many small towns and rural areas, starting with the large city of Nairobi and ending in Nairobi for another 5 days. Along the way, we saw men, women and children digging trenches about 1 ft deep alongside the road and laying a 2” hose in the trench for hundreds of miles. There would be a group of five or six people every mile digging, with the goal of eventually being able to deliver water to these remote places.
Through every village we passed we would see women and children carrying large 3 to five gallon plastic containers on their heads. They would go down the steep banks to very muddy rivers and most likely contaminated with animal feces (as there are many goats and cows alongside the banks). Water weighs 8lbs per gallon, so a five gallon jug would weigh 40lbs that they would then have to haul back up the river banks.
Every village we passed through we would see motorcycles with about 10, five gallon plastic water tanks being carried to buy water wherever they could. No one has plumbing in these small towns and if they don’t have enough money to buy water, they must retrieve it from fouled rivers without purification.
The worst situation we saw was in Amboselli Park where a young Masai teenage boy was herding his cows through the park. He had no water with him and he was bending and scooping water with his hands to drink right where the elephants had just urinated and had bowel movements. We offered him some bottled water and his eyes lit up, he broke into the biggest smile and he came running. We wished we had more to give him, but he didn’t have a way to carry it even if we did. We encountered this a few more times and once with a camel herder.
Another day, we were stopped in a roadblock due to a skirmish between two neighboring tribes and needed a police escort. When the police left and the warring tribe came to our car to investigate (bribe) us into letting us pass, all they demanded from us was bottled water. Water is such a precious commodity in Kenya.
Do you have a story to share about your experiences with lack of clean water? Please share them with us and help inspire others to become involved in helping others! Jessica, thank you for taking the time to write and share this!
(the photo is of a boy drinking water on the road with elephant poop in it as well)