Rainwater Harvesting Projects
Olkuroto is a community of 1,070 people located in the Maasai region of south-west Kenya. Like many Maasai villages, the community live in homes made from earth and cow dung.
The homes are scattered across the landscape, each housing a family of around 20 and their livestock. Life revolves around the livestock, with the men and boys spending their days herding the cattle and protecting them from the local elephants, buffalos and lions. Meanwhile, the women and girls collect water and firewood, as well as looking after the home and cooking.
Rainwater Harvesting is our preferred solution for water projects as it is sustainable, low-tech and can be easily maintained by the community. Dig Deep uses meteorological data to calculate the amount of rainfall that can be captured and what volume of storage is required to provide water throughout the dry seasons. Dig Deep will also consider other solutions such as boreholes and spring improvement when sustainability criteria are met.
“The major challenge we have in this place is we don’t have springs and the water we get from the short rains are like pools, which are very dirty and when people take this water they start to get sick from waterborne diseases”
Quote from the water committee
The community is incredibly remote, and receives almost no government support.
There are no roads to the village, no electricity, and – prior to the community working with Dig Deep - no access to clean water. During the wet season, the community and their livestock all got their water from a reservoir. It was dirty and polluted with animal and human excrement, and drinking the water from it had been causing diarrhoea and sickness. What’s more, during the dry season, this reservoir dries up completely.
This meant the girls and women needed to walk a 15km round trip to collect water from other sources which are also unfit for human consumption. This walk took them through the neighbouring nature conservancies, which increased the risk of them running into the life threatening local wildlife. The walk took up a huge amount of time and energy, and the water they collected damaged the health of the community, especially the children.
This is where Dig Deep got involved. We have been working with Maasai communities in Narok county for over 7 years, building partnerships with the community leaders, and working with them to provide sustainable and reliable water sources.
The community elected a water committee and Dig Deep worked with them to decide on the best way to solve this water crisis. Together we undertook an assessment of the best technologies to use and agreed that, due to the nature of this remote and arid land, a rainwater harvesting tank was the most sustainable solution.
Dig Deep’s rainwater harvesting systems are constructed using entirely locally available materials and construction expertise. Their simplicity is such that they can be managed and maintained by local people, something that we believe is key to the long-term sustainability of water projects. As part of the planning process, the water committee was invited to visit a similar rainwater harvesting project in the neighbouring community of Endoniyo Narasha which Dig Deep had worked to construct in 2013.
The water committee learned how their neighbours managed and maintained this project and were impressed by the feedback given by members of this community who described the project as ‘a miracle’.
"The good thing about this water is that it is rain water harvesting, so that means it is clean water. It won’t be contaminated by elephant stools and all that."
Quote from the water committee
Dig Deep and the Olkuroto Water Committee agreed to build a 500,000 litre rainwater collection tank as this will store enough clean water for the community for both the rainy and dry seasons. The community doesn’t currently have any roofs that can be used to collect the rainwater, so it was decided to construct an artificial roof water catchment area, as having the collection area raised off the ground helps prevent the water getting contaminated by livestock and wildlife.
The land for the project was donated and the community themselves contributed to the cost, giving them ownership and a sense of responsibility for the finished project.
Work for the project began in October 2015 and lasted just over 6 months. A deep pit was dug for the tank to sit in and then the materials for the tank and trough were delivered to the site - no small feat considering the remoteness and lack of paved roads to the community.
The collection roof was then built and the first flush system installed – this is a mechanism that helps keep the water clean and safe. The tank was then constructed and finally, the tap stands were installed.
This rainwater harvester is now providing clean water to the community all year round and will continue to do so for the next 20 years before requiring significant refurbishment.
Prior to and alongside this construction, our local field officer Jonathan and the Narok County’s ministry of water trained the Water Committee, who are now responsible for the on-going maintenance and management of the rainwater harvesting system. They have now set up a water business where there will be a small payment from households to use the water - The Water Committee are using these funds to maintain the tank and have enough contingency money should repairs be needed in the future. Jonathan and the rest of the Dig Deep team will continue to work with the community until at least 2020, making sure that the water business is sustainable and that the committee has the tools and know how to manage the project into the future.
This is just one of the projects Dig Deep has undertaken in this area. For example, we are also currently working with all the local schools to train teachers and community health workers in health and hygiene, ensuring that members of Okuroto and their neighboring communities understand how diseases spread and what they need to do to keep themselves and their families healthy. You can see this and all of our other projects in the area on our project map here .
This project was made possible through the generous support of Mahali Mzuri and the Whole World Water Fund.