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2019: The story of a new era in New Canaan

At the end of January, our team was hard at work in the field in Nakuru County, Kenya, for the drilling of our first 2019 water well.

New Canaan is home to 6,000 people and was originally a settlement for displaced persons (IDP’s) resulting from conflict and violence that arose after the 2007 elections in Kenya.

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The community has a high percentage of unemployment and due to lack of funds, many youths are stranded at home because they cannot afford college or high school. Additionally, after the violent clashes, many women lost their husbands, leaving many mothers to take care of their homes single-handedly. In other families, only the very young children and grandparents survived. These homes face even greater financial difficulties- mostly relying on donations and goodwill for survival.

Until now, the community was also suffering greatly from lack of clean water access. In 2009, a water project was implemented in New Canaan where piped water was brought to the community.

However, conflict arose between the two communities within New Canaan, “Molo” and “Makongeni,” over the project’s leadership.This chaos led to mismanagement of the water system and resulted in an accumulated water bill of almost 3M Kenyan Shillings (~$30,000 USD) which the residents could not pay. The water was subsequently cut off and New Canaan was then forced to travel 1 km to fetch free water or buy water at a cost of 5 shillings from the nearest vendor (which is an hour walk roundtrip).

Not only has water been difficult to come by and unaffordable, but the community in New Canaan also does not typically treat or boil their water. They drink their water untreated and are lucky to not have many cases of waterborne disease.

Now, thanks to the support of generous donors, affordable clean water will soon be within reach and 2019 is truly the start of a new era in New Canaan.

Images by Lindsey Reed

As we drilled the new well, our team met a lot of people who live in the homes closest to the borehole. One of them was a woman named Anne and her two-year-old daughter Esther. We got to know Anne well throughout the week we were there.

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Anne is 27 years old with two children, no husband, and no job. She had a very hard life before coming to live in New Canaan and still struggles every day to feed her children and keep them healthy. Anne was always the first one at the drill site watching and the last one to leave at the end of the day. She knows the clean water from the new well will be a turning point in life for her and her children and she was not shy in expressing her gratitude to the Well Aware team. Goodbyes were hard with Anne, but we know we will see her again, and next time, she’ll have clean water to give to her children.

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The newly built well will provide clean drinking water to the entire community of New Canaan. Not only will they now have access to clean, reliable water, but they will also have ownership of this project and will finally have a say in the management of their own water.

Women are hopeful that a closer source of water will encourage more hygiene, and perhaps support a kitchen garden, among other things. This new water system will help New Canaan thrive in more ways than the community could have ever imagined before, and we cannot wait to watch this transformation unfold.