Not a drop to drink: Building water tanks in arid lands

For the people of the Kasigau area where our Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary is located, a normal day involves walking many miles to collect or purchase clean water. With urbanization and changes in lifestyles, water consumption is increasing at a tremendous rate. Kasigau is considered an ASAL (arid and semi-arid land), where water shortages are the norm. The lack of clean water leads to unhealthy living situations, forcing humans and wildlife to drink contaminated water, which can lead to water-born diseases.

Our conservation strategy that falls under the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) carbon offset marketplace includes the implementation of community improvement projects that aim to ameliorate these rural community challenges.

For those unfamiliar with our unique approach to REDD, money collected from the sale of the carbon offset credits that we produce goes back into the rural communities who have committed to protecting their environment and wildlife. The money is used to create sustainable jobs that give residents alternatives to destroying forests and wildlife for their basic survival needs. These jobs support improvements to education, environment, health and provide other forms of sustainable work.

When the people of Kasigau and five other locations around our project area heard about REDD and how this project could help their communities, the message was difficult for people to believe, but they decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and haven’t regretted it since. The local communities enjoy additional support for women groups, better job opportunities and growth, more education scholarships and overall local commerce growth from the increased job opportunities.

Early last year residents started offering proposals for the various community improvement projects they wanted to see carried out. Each village was allocated one third of the carbon credit money that is normally set aside for community improvement, just so long as the proposal is within REDD project mandates. Most locations issued similar proposals, all of which indicated a need for water.

The process of proposal verification requires a lot of time and research to determine feasibility, and many community members began to feel anxious that the water projects were not going to happen. The people of Makwasinyi in particular began to lose hope, as their old water tank was cracked and unusable, forcing them to travel very far from home for water.

To everyone’s relief, construction on the water tank projects began last month and we’re happy to say the one in Makwasinyi is already finished and ready for use!

 

The new water tank.

Ms. Zige, a mother of one, said she is so happy to have water just next to her house. She explained the situation Makwasinyi, saying, “When we gave the proposal of a water tank, we thought that it will never happen… We continued to use the old one but since it had a lot of cracks, all the water that was being pumped in would pour out and this would force us to go out and look for water very far from our home… Now I lack words to express my gratitude to Wildlife Works.”

The old, cracked water tank
The old and new tanks, side by side.

In addition to the water tanks, Wildlife Works has signed over many more community projects to contractors, and we are ready to start construction on a new classroom at the Mwatate Seconday School building, water storage tanks at the Maili Kumi Primary School and furniture for the students at Moi High School including new chairs, bunk beds and lockers.

As we continue our work to protect forests and wildlife, we will also continue improving living conditions for the members of our community. We are so grateful for our supporters, our staff members and everyone who believes in the power of REDD!

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