Friday, 5 July 2013

Solar power brings piped water to rural Western Kenya's doorstep
23 May 2013

KAKAMEGA, Kenya (Thomson Reuters Foundation)-Residents of some rural communities in Western Kenya can now access clean piped water at their doorsteps, thanks to solar-powered engines that pump it from borehole wells. Pamela Kuyuti reckons it has kept her family together.

"Before this tap with running water was connected to my homestead, I was actually contemplating to quit this marriage", said Kuyuti, a resident of Mukhalanya village. "I was exhausted walking hours on a daily basis to fetch water for my family and for my mother-in-law".

With support from World Vision, an international nongovernmental organisation, community-based organisations in Matete District, Kakamega County, have sunk a borehole at each of nine primary and secondary schools to serve the surrounding communities.

At Lukova primary school, the borehole is about 70 metres (230 feet) deep. An engine connected to 102 interlinked solar panels yields enough electricity to pump 16,000 litres (4,200 US gallons) of water per hour from the borehole into two 100,000 litre (2,600 gallon) pressed steel tanks.

The tanks are built on higher ground than the village's homes, allowing gravity to channel the water through pipes to seven water kiosks and 70 homesteads in a number of villages. While three of the boreholes use solar power to pump water to the villages, the wells in areas that have been reached by the government's rural electrification programme use grid electricity to power the pumps.

According to data from World Vision, approximately 6,600 people are already benefiting from the Lukova project alone, including four schools, two market centres and people in the surrounding community. The nine boreholes serve a total of 1,570 households, which in Western Kenya have an average of seven children.

The pumps are located in schools so that children are the first beneficiaries of the clean water, and because the schools are community-owned institutions in which residents have a common interest.

Read More…