PHOTO: TBI Community Development Manager, Joanne Velo (L) With Local ECD assistant Esther (C) and Rotary Muthaiga’s Lead Projects Manager,  Kanyana Muriuki At The Kaikol Event

Rotary Cupertino visited Napudet in Turkana County on invitation by Prof. Isaiah Nengo. Kaikol is a remote village in Turkana Central, 45 km south-east of Lodwar Town. It is in the Loreng’elup sub-location, Kerio division. Known for its fossil-rich archaeological sites, the extraordinary findings here have been used to test several important hypotheses in the field of Palaeontology.

Hosted by The Turkana Basin Institute – founded by Dr Richard Leakey – Rotarians visited villages in the area in August 2018, and witnessed first-hand the local village way of life. Upon engaging the village elders, Rotarians determined that their basic need is convenient access to clean water.

Presently, the village folk in Kaikol and Napudet walk 8-12kms to the nearest borehole. This effort is a day-long expedition just to obtain a 2–3-day’s supply of water. The endeavor often involves women and children of the families, meaning children are taken out of school to help. At times, they walk even further distances if the regular borehole goes out of order.

Fundraising with Rotary and planning, mentioning collaboration with county government. 

TBI, Rotary Cupertino and Rotary Muthaiga have been planning the project since February 2019. The project is named Alesi, after the fossil Nyanzapithecus Alesi (a 13-million-year-old baby ape skull fossil discovered in the area in 2014). The word Alesi is derived from Turkana and it means “ancestor”.

Rotary Cupertino rallied other rotary clubs all over the world under the leadership of Jagi Shah to mobilize funds to drill two boreholes within Kaikol, creating the content for the grant application and being the liaison between the communities and the donors. The planning included obtaining advice from the local county government experts in the ministry of water who have become part of the implementing team.

 Initial drilling and celebration

After the hydrological survey, it was all systems to go with TBI clearing the way for the official commissioning of the Kaikol borehole. The groundbreaking ceremony happened in July 2021 and the function was attended by TBI representatives, Rotary Muthaiga and Turkana County Ministry of water Director Engineer Tito Ochieng’ and other officers, and the contractor Izay Group.

The community was in a celebratory mood, expressing in their speeches that they were very grateful that finally they would not have to walk 12 kms to get drinking water. Bursts of songs and dances from both men and women, young and old marked the community meeting under the famous ‘Baraza’ (meeting) tree at Kaikol. Prayers were offered and village elders commissioned the borehole through pronunciation of traditional blessings and a hope that only clean water will be found.

Villagers at the community in song and dance, expressing their gratitude for the borehole

Villagers in song and dance, expressing their gratitude for the Kaikol borehole

Having successfully hit water, the team is now monitoring the water quality ensuring that the new water supply will be safe and operationally sustainable.

Long term management – the future

A community water committee will be selected and trained to run the project equipment once it is formally handed over to the community. A vegetable garden will be put in place and run by the women of Kaikol as an economic activity and as a supplement to family nutrition. 

There will be continuous monitoring by TBI to ensure monthly reporting and proper maintenance of the facilities. The water committee will also be registered under WARMA to enable the community to access funding to scale up the project and for maintenance help.