A woman collects water from the Athi River in Eastern Kenya.


Greetings from Africa

Hi and welcome, or karibu, as they say here.  Over the next several months I’ll be sharing my experience of living and working in Kenya through this blog.  Every day brings something new – whether it be a visit to someplace I have not yet been, a fresh insight into the culture or just a snapshot, a moment, where I see or hear something that stays with me.  I look forward to sharing these experiences with you.

I am coordinating a safe water project that is funded by the Rotary Club of Atlanta in partnership with Emory’s Center for Global Safe Water and the CDC. This health initiative includes two programs that address the issue of lack of access to safe water. In eastern Kenya, a semi arid region where the rains have been inconsistent over the past several years, 100 boreholes are being drilled and capped with simple hand-pumps.  On the other side of the country, in western Kenya’s Nyanza Province, there is a different issue.  Surface water is more plentiful but highly contaminated, adding to the high rates of diarrhea, especially in children under five and people living with HIV/AIDS.  To address this issue, we’ve introduced a program that incorporates the Safe Water System (SWS) with a microfinance initiative for rural self-help groups.  This creates a sustainable market and distribution mechanism for the local SWS product, WaterGuard, while providing an income generating opportunity for the rural groups.  Additionally, it gets needed messages and products to an underserved segment of the population.

My role is multi-faceted.  As coordinator, my first obligation is to serve as a conduit for information, ideas, and discussions between all partners, both the local implementers and the international donors and advisers.   This is probably the most challenging aspect of my job, as it is difficult at times to remain balanced with one foot on the ground with the local implementers and the other back home where the donors and advisers are helping to guide the project.  Although complex, this meeting of the worlds (and they are very different worlds at times) is a requisite for the successful implementation of any development project.

Building on a year full of lessons learned, both programs are now in full swing.  Thanks to the dedicated work of the local program implementers, ADRA, PassAfrica and the Safe Water & AIDS Project, accessing safe water has become a little easier for some people here.


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