Helping Kenya's Farmers Help Themselves
TPRF funds boreholes in rural Amoyo
Equatorial Africa is an area of heavy rainfall that also suffers periods of drought. During those times, in Amoyo, a farming community of 3,000 in northwestern Kenya, the men, women and children must trudge up to three miles to the Kuja River to fetch dirty brown water which often contains bits of floating debris. Waterborne diseases such as malaria and typhoid then spread.
The Amoyo elders have long recognized the problem and registered the Kasoka Self-Help Group with the Kenyan government to try to deal with it.
Thirty to ninety feet below the surface there is an abundant supply of fresh, clean water. But Amoyo is a subsistence community where farmers are barely able to grow enough food for their families. There has never been enough money for drilling wells.
In 2009, British traveler Simon Shirley visited Amoyo. Seeing the need and spirit of the people, he wanted to help.
"I had always wanted to walk the Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage across northern Spain," Simon said. "I woke up one day with the thought to put the two ideas together."
The shrine of Santiago de Compostella has been a major Christian pilgrimage destination since the 9th century. The route is known as the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James, and stretches 800 kilometers—about 500 miles— across northern Spain, from the Pyrenees in France to the shrine in Galicia. Today, it has become a popular route for people of many backgrounds to use as a retreat from the bustle of modern life.
Simon's idea, which he named The Amoyo Project, was to aid the Kasoka Self-Help Group by asking friends, family and other donors to sponsor his walk. "In these harsh economic times," he said, "it seemed to me better to raise money by sponsorship."
The Amoyo Project raised about half the funds required to construct two simple boreholes in Amoyo; a grant from TPRF provided the rest.
"With a clean and plentiful supply of water, the people can drink, wash and irrigate their farms adequately," Shirley said. "After breath and air, water is the most important resource we have on this planet. A good water supply will transform these people's lives."