Problem: Olepolos is located in the Mt. Kilimanjaro Highlands, near the Tanzanian border. It is a densely populated area; home to almost 2,500 Kenyans. In the past, these villagers had to cross the border into Tanzania every day and wait in line at the Kamwanga well. This cost the women eight hours every day, and nearly three quarters of the villagers complained of being sick from drinking dirty water. We heard about Olepolos when they approached us for help at the opening ceremony of Imisigiyio Community Borehole in 2009. We then entered into partnership with our dear friends at the Colonial Rotary Club of Dover, Delaware to raise money to solve Olepolos water problems once and for all. With support from Rotary Clubs in Dover, Rotary District 7630 and the Rotary Foundation and our generous WILK donors we were able raise money for all the components required.
Solution: The villagers knew they needed a better source, and we committed ourselves to help them. After discussing with community leaders, the consensus was to drill a borehole well near the two local pre-schools. In the fall of 2012, after the locals doing the required cost sharing, we drilled a borehole 600 feet deep. A pump and a generator were installed. To serve the community’s needs, a large cement holding tank and cattle trough were built capable of holding 100,000 liters! Bathrooms were also constructed, to aid in the prevention of waterborne illness. A Water, Sanitation and Hygiene training was held, along with Water Management Committee training.
Impact: It was an ambitious project and the benefits have been outstanding: the time spent gathering water has been dropped from eight hours to less than one, and as a result of the steady water supply both schools have grown larger to accommodate the many children who need education. The local pastor told us that livestock are healthier than ever, and that people have started moving to Olepolos for the water security. The villagers even wrote a song, thanking us for bringing them clean water! Lydia from Olepolos says, “Since we have the Olepolos borehole, we have more time to work on our farms and even have extra time to look for casual labor working on our neighbor’s farms”. Three small shops, a small restaurant run by a young enterprising lady called Monica, and a mill for grinding grains have been started around the borehole, making it an economic engine for the community. It is a sight to behold in a place that used to be simply a bushy olepolos or “place between places”.