It was such an excitement to 2,000 Atot community members when the drill rigs finally set camp to drill a brand new clean water well in their Turkana village in a very dry area of northern Kenya, Isiolo County.
Before the new well, many were collecting water from the nearby Isiolo River. This river cuts across the road, so cars and livestock pass through it daily. Sewage and waste from a nearby slaughterhouse are also released into the river contaminating its water further. Thus the community has been suffering greatly from waterborne disease and stunted health. Development has also been stagnant. There are no schools and no education for the children. Women spend their days walking to retrieve the water and then trying to ration it as best they can. Livestock, which is their livelihood, is often depleted by drought, leaving the community without a reliable income. And the children are malnourished because of the lack of food and water.
With this great need for water, Atot has been on our project radar for a while but has suffered the misfortune of postponement due to external conflicts. This time though, the team was ready to make this project happen come rain or sun. In Kenya, we have an adage that goes “Mvumilivi ula mbivu” loosely translated to “patience pays.”
Atot made Well Aware history as the first new borehole well to be supervised by our Kenya-based team alone, without U.S. staff on-site.
This comes as we continue to hire more team in East Africa and scale up our capacity to implement projects there without supervision from U.S. staff. With collaboration and correspondence between the Kenya office and the USA office, the Atot well was implemented successfully and now 2,000 people have access to clean water! We’re deeply grateful to Kitty and Bill Carley, and our Brand Partner, FreeWater, for making this project possible.
As is the nature of our work, drills can be very complicated, with many moving parts and setbacks for various reasons. This was not the case at Atot, which turned out to be one of the smoothest drills we’ve had in 11 years recording no setbacks or any major breakdowns. The Atot drill was one of the quickest drills in the history of Well Aware. The drilling portion of the borehole was complete in less than a day, starting at 9:00 am and ending at 5:00 pm with a total depth of 140 meters. After the casing was installed, a pump test was conducted to determine that the final well design produces 3.5 cubic meters of water per hour – which is a plentiful yield that will sustain the needs of all 2,000 people. The greatest achievement was watching members of the community trickle down from their homes and even camp by the drill site to do laundry, wash kids, and fetch water as the engineers did the pump test. No drop of water would be allowed to go to waste. We got wind of information that households were planning to relocate and settle around the borehole. An upcoming school was constructed just after the drilling site was identified.
With such indications, Atot is likely to have a population burst that will double or triple the current 200 homesteads. With this exponential growth, we expect major changes in lifestyle such as better health now that they can stop relying on contaminated water. The community is so excited about having gardens to add needed nutritions to their daily meals. We also expect women in the community, now freed from the water fetching role, to engage in small business and also liberate girls and boys to go school. Nomadism is also likely to reduce in the region because with water in the community, there will be less reason to move around from place to place. And lastly, availability of water is likely to bring about peace and cohesion reducing conflict from neighboring communities.
We look forward to training, mentoring, and walking with the people of Atot in their new journey with as they enjoy lasting clean water and begin to feel a Ripple Effect of impact.
Atot is the third community borehole in the region!