TANGI TATU THE LAND OF BOUNTYWater project has become a wellspring to hundreds of households and their livestock
Mwedabi location in Nakuru County lies in a valley serenaded by
rolling hills. A labyrinth of dusty footpaths cut across the valley
heading to three tanks of different sizes sitting at the bottom of
Women with jerry-cans swinging from their hands hurry down the footpaths in the gathering gloom keen on getting to the water point at Tangi Tatu before dusk.
Here and there, one can spot a villager leading a pack of donkeys with water containers tied to their backs. The occasional motorbike rider will roar down the valley heading towards the same destination.
"These days I'm not worried about water because it is available a short distance from my home. Previously I would walk for 20KMs to get water. It was what I did the whole day"
At a more leisurely pace, herdsmen are driving their animals to drink water
before turning in for the night. Their unhurried gait is informed by the fact
that women fetching water for domestic use will be given the first priority.
In contrast to the rest of the countryside that has been suffering from a
prolonged drought, the area around the water point is green and lively. Bird
life is abundant. Birds make a squeaky landing on a nearby acacia tree ready
to settle for the night.
Susan Kol cuts her way through the herds of goats milling around the water point to the pipes reserved for those drawing water for domestic use. She has been working in her farm the whole day with only a lunch break.
With more time in her hands, Ms Kol is able
to concentrate on activities that contribute to
generating more income for her family.
The Tangi Tatu project is the convergence point for Enalbor Ajik, Ngodi, Maela and Mwedabi villages. Revived by Safaricom Foundation, Tangi Tatu has a long history. The area had always suffered perennial water shortages but the problem took a turn for the worse with the settlement of thousands of victims of ethnic clashes in 1992. It is under these circumstances that Red Cross sunk a borehole and installed a generator to pump water into reservoirs in 1994.
The pump changed the fortunes of the community almost overnight. Suddenly, they had water within reasonable distance. They had more time for productive work. Some women started tree nurseries while other residents started small irrigation projects. Where desolation had reigned over their lives, the borehole brought hope, and new life.
Some women started tree nurseries while other
residents started small irrigation projects. Where
desolation had reigned over their lives, the
borehole brought hope, and new life.
“The days of hope and promise did not last. After three years the pump broke down. We were cast back to the painful days of trekking for kilometres looking for water,” recalls Mr Nicholas Palpai. With the pump out of service the tree nurseries and irrigation projects were doomed. Children dropped out of school as fetching water became everyone’s preoccupation.
And while the villages had been on the path to food security through irrigation, the days of scarcity were now back and diseases such as malaria and cholera returned with a vengeance. It was under such desperate times that Safaricom Foundation came on board and provided funds for a new immersion pump and control panel. And once more Tangi Tatu was breathing fresh life into the community.
“We are back on our feet. We have more food, improved incomes and we are enjoying better health,” says Mr James Lemurt, the chairman of the project. The project is at the heart of the community’s wealth. Mr Lemurt reveals that the project benefits 6,000 families. It is also the source of water for 5,000 cows and 10,000 goats.
Residents with the means to ferry enough water
for irrigation are back to growing commercial crops
such as tomatoes, beans, maize and hay.
As the sun finally sinks behind the distant hills and darkness settles over the valley, villagers head for their respective homes confident that Tangi Tatu will be there tomorrow to sustain their lives.