Borehole Water Comes to Nyanchonori

The village of Nyanchonori is now supplied with fresh borehole water that is piped to four kiosks, where the villagers can collect it in jerry cans.

Until 2018, none of the villages in the Nyankoba Ward had running water. When the Hopewell Valley High School students visited in 2007, they walked three hundred yards down a hill to the stream where Nyanchonori villagers went several times a day to fetch water. During dry periods, the local stream dries up and the villagers had to walk up to two miles round trip to a cistern on the nearest river, at about 700 feet lower elevation. It was clear that the long-term solution was to install a borehole, storage tank and distribution system in Nyanchonori and Mong’oni.

Student Trevor Saunders collecting water in 2007

We did get a proposal in 2011 from the District Water Officer of the Kenya Government to develop a fully operating borehole-based water company for $154,000. HKA-Keroka applied for a grant for 90% of the project to the Community Development Trust Fund, a joint European Union /Government of Kenya poverty alleviation program. Unfortunately they heard back in June 2012 that the application was not successful. HKA and the WHO Club at HVCHS continued to raise money to cover the grant requirement of 10% from the community. They raised just under $14,500 of their $15,000 goal. A symbolic “check” for $10,000 was presented to the Nyankoba community by the students on the 2012 trip to let them know that we were making progress towards bringing them water. We had to go back to the drawing board on funding for the borehole project.

A promising development in January 2014 was that HKA-Keroka was invited by the newly formed Nyamira County Government to apply for support for a borehole. We sent $1,500 to fund the required geologist’s report on water availability and environmental impact and to complete the application forms. In May 2015, we learned that our application was successful and that the County allocated 2.5 million Kenya shillings (about $25,000) to drill a borehole. The County also said they would install an electric pump and a solar system to power it. In August 2015, we sent the $14,330 raised by our students to HKA-Keroka to allow them to purchase a 25 x 100 feet plot of land to locate the borehole, and to provide funds to begin the construction of a water tank and distribution system. We are very grateful to the students for their efforts and for their continuing support of HKA. The land cost $1,800, and the remaining funds allowed HKA-Keroka to engage a contractor and negotiate the  construction of the tank and distribution system.

In March, 2016, the contractor retained by Nyamira County drilled the water borehole in Nyanchonori to a depth of 160 meters. Subsequent testing showed that it could sustain the target flow rate of 5,000 liters per hour and that the water was pure enough to drink. Due to budget constraints, County funds for the pump and solar system were delayed. Since the region was in a severe drought in 2016-17, HKA-Keroka requested $15,000 from HKA to install the pump and connect it to the electricity grid, now possible since electricity was brought to the village in 2015. The money was sent and a contractor started work in January, 2018 on the project. At the same time, construction started on a tank tower to house two 10,000 liter tanks from the County, and on a distribution system.

Excitement! First water from the well in March 2016

Work on the tank tower for the two 10,000 liter tanks was completed at the end of February, 2018. The pump was installed and connected to the electricity grid and on March 4, 2018 the pump started filling the tanks. Water was available for the community for the first time from a hose connection at the base of the tank.

Nyanchonori water tank tower

Upon completion of the water tank, work started on the distribution system. The traditional approach in Kenya is to build kiosks within the community where villagers can come to collect water. Four kiosks were built in the village, two near the tank tower, one on the grounds of Nyanchonori Secondary School opposite the tea-buying center, and a third at Chitago. Water is gravity-fed to the kiosks from the tank tower through underground pipes and the kiosks are fitted with faucets. HKA-Keroka plans two build two more kiosks, one near the Nyanchonori Healthcare Center and the other at the Kegwanda Primary School. They also will build in Chitago a second storage tank to increase the capacity of the system.

Water customers filling jerry cans at a kiosk

In April 2018, the County contractor arrived and installed a solar power system on a frame over the pump house. Solar power is sufficient for the time being, but as demand grows, grid-supplied electricity will be needed for nights and cloudy days. The community will develop a water company to manage the supply of water and to generate funds to pay for the electricity, for maintenance and repairs and to expand the system. In 2016, representatives from HKA and HKA-Keroka visited a water company in Nyasere to learn from their experience.

Pump house and solar system

Nyanchonori has been visited several times by representatives of the County and National governments to observe the progress of the project. All have expressed admiration for how well it has progressed. We will continue to support this project until it is self-sustaining. We also anticipate assisting with the development of a water project in Mong’oni, the other half of the Nyankoba Ward.

Here is a link to a pictorial presentation showing the 2018 progress on delivering water from the borehole to the village of Nyanchonori. Pictures and words were taken from WhatsApp messages by HKA-Keroka water chairperson Rogers Akama Ongwenyi, who has been the driving force behind the project. His words to us on October 5, 2018 sum up the value of the project to the community: “At the moment the steams are dry but the community has NO problem with water. Be blessed.”

Borehole Progress

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