On Tuesday May 30th, a vast storm hit the Ileret area and brought an immense amount of rain. Within a short period of 9 hours, TBI Ileret facility documented a record-high rainfall of more than 200 mm (8 inches). This amount is much more than a typical rainstorm at Ileret (~20 mm), and more than half of the annual precipitation in the area (~300 mm). Although rain is to be expected in May/June, a rain this heavy was an event no one can ever remember having occurred before. Due to the prolonged drought prior to this extreme weather, the local people had built temporary settlements close to ephemeral river channels where they could dig for water from the sandy river beds. Not realizing how devastating the storm could be, unfortunately, some households did not have time to evacuate to safety. The flash floods have claimed more than 30 human lives and caused serious damage to the local community. Some lost their huts and belongings; others lost their livestock, which is their major source of food and income.

Flash floods at Ileret, Photo credit: Hillary Sale

In response to this catastrophe, TBI has made available all spare sheet metal from the Ileret facility to about 50 families, to help provide them with shelter. The sheet metal has been distributed to the local community immediately after the roads were passable on Saturday, June 3. TBI has also raised an emergency fund from the Global Innovation Field School team, staff members, and Richard Leakey himself, totaling at more than 2,000 dollars. This fund was used to purchase food, utensils, clothing and other emergency supplies. The first batch of the supplies, consisting of mostly food and utensils, arrived at TBI-Ileret on June 15. A second batch is on its way to Ileret and will be distributed soon. Richard Leakey, TBI’s Nairobi office, and TBI-Ileret are working together to make sure that we are doing everything possible to support our neighbors.

The first batch of emergency supplies to be distributed

Alan and Jake helping to load the TBI truck with supplies

TA Julian (right) helps to load the TBI truck

As a gesture of lending a helping hand to the local community, the Global Innovation Field School team committed to distributing the first batch of emergency supplies on Saturday, June 17. The place of distribution was at a local school north of the Ileret river, where floods affected the local community the most. Habara Moroto, TBI’s community outreach coordinator, did his best to gather representatives of households who lost family members and/or property. The event was very well received by the local community and we were welcomed by a few songs before we started the distribution process. We prioritized our supplies to support families who are suffering from heavy losses, then women and children who needed food the most. With the help from the Global Innovation Field School team, the distribution process went extremely well.

A crowd gathers at the distribution site

Many of them are women who need food and other supplies

Habara Moroto explains the distribution process to the local community

The Global Innovation team and TBI staff put the supplies together

Pots, plates, cups, rice and sugar to be distributed

Maize flour is the staple food for the locals

Nick and Brent organize food into stacks

Saffron and Giancarlos help with distribution

Instructor Rodrigo and Addison are ready to hand out the supplies

Habara (left) hands out supplies to families in need

Ambrose (right) keeps a record of the families that are receiving help

Locals are ready to bring their emergency supplies home

The Global Innovation Field School students and instructors have already done a great job identifying and fixing small problems at both the primary school and the clinic of Ileret town. Their frequent presence in the local community and involvement in improving the situations have made a positive impact especially among the local school kids. Although it is the first time the Global Innovation program is run at Ileret, their level of communication, care and enthusiasm have impressed many. The goal of the Global Innovation program is to come back every year with both long-term and short-term projects that could improve water security, sanitation, energy, education and infrastructure in a sustainable manner. Hopefully their commitment will inspire more and more people to participate in the well-being of the local community.

The Global Innovation team takes a small break between sessions