IsraAID hands over new boreholes to local community in Kenya

Marking World Water Day, the Israeli NGO celebrates renewed access to safe water for 64,000 members of the local Turkana community.

An IsraAID water point in Turkana County, Kenya.                     Photo by Lameck Ododo/IsraAID.
An IsraAID water point in Turkana County, Kenya. Photo by Lameck Ododo/IsraAID.

IsraAID, Israel’s leading nongovernmental humanitarian aid agency, celebrated World Water Day last week with a ceremony in Turkana County, northwest Kenya, where a new borehole was handed over to the local community.

At the “Community Centered Approach to Water and Nutrition” ceremony, Governor Jeremiah Ekamais Lomorukai Napotikan commissioned the new borehole and Nachuro Community Water Kiosk. Over the past year, as part of their drought recovery programs, IsraAID has drilled three new boreholes in the county, rehabilitated 14 more, and restored access to safe water for more than 64,000 people in the local Turkana host community. The ceremony was held in partnership with the Kakuma Town Water and Sewage Company and Turkana County government.
Beginning in 2020, a series of failed rainy seasons caused the worst drought in over 40 years, leaving many families to survive on as little as seven liters of water per week—far below the recommended 15 liters per person, per day recommended by the United Nations for emergencies. Local host communities saw many of the worst effects of the drought, as they do not have access to many aid resources aimed at the refugee community. Rates of waterborne illness spiked as people turned to unsafe or contaminated water sources. Children were often kept out of school to search for water, and women and girls face a higher risk of gender-based violence as they travel long distances to find water. Communities are still recovering from the drought and its wide-reaching effects.
Following an intensive hydraulic survey, in partnership with BGC Engineering Inc., IsraAID identified sites where subterranean water could be accessed and drilled new boreholes to serve local host communities. The three boreholes serve communities in and around Kakuma town. IsraAID repaired an additional 14 boreholes in surrounding villages. Nine of those boreholes were rehabilitated through the county and IsraAID facilitated water trucking to exceedingly water-stressed areas. Three defluoridization systems were installed to remove fluoride from water sources, improving water quality and mitigating health risks. IsraAID also constructed four water kiosks, which serve as centralized points where community members can access safe water, drastically reducing how far people must travel and how long they must wait for water access.  
Alongside improvements to infrastructure, IsraAID promoted safe water use, and proper sanitation and hygiene practices, across the region, with community outreach workers going door-to-door to more than 3,000 households and making multiple visits to help families implement the changes. Sixty-eight local water-management committee members were trained and equipped with the tools needed to maintain and repair their water infrastructure. Finally, IsraAID reached nearly 37,000 people with essential non-food items, including jerricans, soap and water-purification tablets. These projects were completed with funding from UMCOR and an anonymous family foundation.

An IsraAID water point in Turkana County, Kenya. Photo by Lameck Ododo/IsraAID.

IsraAID began responding to the refugee crisis in Kenya in 2013, serving both the refugee and host communities in Turkana West County. Kakuma Refugee Camp and the nearby Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement are home to more than 270,000 refugees from over 10 countries, including South Sudan, Burundi, DRC, Ethiopia and more. Alongside IsraAID’s work in water, sanitation and hygiene in Kenya, the organization works in mental health and protection, child protection, health, nutrition and prevention of gender-based violence.
The governor of Turkana County, Lomorukai Napotikan, said, “I wish to thank all the partners who participated in planning for this day, and whose invaluable contributions to the water agenda cannot be overstated. Today, I am proud to commission the Nachuro community water project that was jointly implemented with IsraAID. This included borehole drilling, installation of solar pumps, piping, fencing, water treatment, and the creation of a new water kiosk.”

IsraAID Kenya Country Director, Gayle Deighton, said, “IsraAID is proud to mark World Water Day together with the Turkana community, celebrate all that has been achieved, and restate our commitment to long-term drought recovery. Access to safe water is an essential need, with wide-reaching effects on the health and safety of the community. Beyond creating new water infrastructure, the community water committees now have the tools and knowledge they need to maintain and repair water systems, ensuring community ownership and sustainability.
“Amid any ongoing refugee crisis, IsraAID works to support both the refugee and host communities,” she continued. “The local Turkana communities and others who live in the region were deeply affected by this drought. We have been so inspired by their resilience and are proud to stand beside them as they recover, rebuild, and create a brighter future.”

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IsraAID is a leading international humanitarian non-governmental organization, based in Israel. Since 2001, IsraAID has become synonymous with a rapid response to humanitarian crises and a long-term commitment to working with affected communities. During and after emergencies, IsraAID partners with communities to re-build their lives - and their futures - together. As of March 2024, IsraAID has responded to more than 100 emergencies, in more than 60 countries.
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