For centuries, the Maasai people herded livestock throughout modern-day Tanzania and Kenya. Today, the Maasai remain a symbol of traditional culture and pride. However, their community regularly suffers from lack of water.
Traditionally nomads, the Maasai were relegated to semi-arid lands during Kenyan independence, losing access to more productive lands. Land was given to groups or individuals in parcels, limiting the territory any individual could use to manage their livestock. In Southern Kenya, Amboseli National Park was created in 1974 around many of the local water sources. The people living on the land were removed, promised a new water source, and forgotten.
In sum, a combination of limited government-initiated infrastructure, limited access to sustainable pasture, and a history of mistreatment by outsiders, has created a water crisis in Southern Kenya.
*Average distance to water: 4 miles
*Average rainfall: 15 inches/year
*Average time spent fetching water: 4 hours a day per family
*Diseases caused by fouled water: Diarrhea, Typhoid, Cholera
*Livestock losses during 2008-2010 drought: up to 80% of the total cattle herd
Water scarcity in this region is not inevitable. Water is available in aquifers and springs that are fed by the rains absorbed by Mt. Kilimanjaro. Even in the midst of drought, the water requirements are so small for local families, and the population so sparse, that if every drop were captured and utilized, there would be an abundance of water.
Water is Life Kenya is committed to supporting local communities in accessing the water they need so that their lives can be productive, fruitful, and filled with opportunity.