Water is life. Well, everyone knows that already; after all, our bodies contain 60 to 80 per cent water depending on whether you are a baby or an adult.
In Northern Kenya, the availability of clean drinking water is almost like a rumour so to speak. Very few people have access to this most precious resource of life. It is for this reason that Islamic Relief Kenya has its operational areas in the Northern Counties of the country in a bid to alleviate poverty and suffering as is its mission.
Mandera County is one of 4 operational areas of Islamic Relief Kenya. This region is classified as an arid area occasioned by prolonged dry periods and drought. As such, the major water sources for the region are water pans, shallow wells and boreholes. There is also one seasonal river in the county that also serves as the national boundary between Kenya and Ethiopia. Though these water sources provide substantial amount of water for community needs, several factors compromise the quality of water especially for human consumption. For instance, water pans collect storm water that is often polluted with suspended impurities including microorganisms. The same case applies to the water directly from the river since it originates from the agricultural Ethiopian highlands. Some interventions have been tried to counteract these problems like drilling a shallow borehole near the water sources but they have proved futile since most of the areas in the region lies on saline bedrock that is sometimes less than twenty feet deep. Therefore the only viable solution that has been adopted by the Islamic Relief WASH team in these two cases (water pans and river) is an infiltration gallery system.
An infiltration gallery consists of an infiltration point to act as intake, screened and plain pipes to convey infiltrated water and a shallow well to collect the water.
The infiltration point is carefully constructed using layers of hardcore, gravel and sand that acts as a filter. As water passes through it, the suspended impurities including microorganisms are filtered allowing only clean water to reach the underneath buried PVC screened pipes. The screened PVC pipes connect to series of plain pipes to convey water to a hand dug shallow well. In this case, the shallow well acts as the reservoir for the clean water. Water can then be pumped out mechanically or lifted using simple water lifting machines like hand pumps.
Fiqow location that lies roughly around 15km from Mandera town along River Daua but has lacked a clean water source for a long time, luckily for the community this technology has been quite effective. To date, cases of water borne diseases have reduced as reported by the area chief during our recent field visits.