13 years ago, eight communities in Tharaka/Nithi in Kenya felt demoralised and forgotten. With only seasonal rivers, in the dry seasons, women and children had to walk for many hours each day in search of water and then carry the water back to their homes. The water they collected was filthy and was the cause of serious illnesses and a great many deaths from numerous water borne diseases. However, the action of local Rotarians in Middleton brought sustainable clean water to the communities and in addition gained the attention of other NGOs to give more support for theses once forgotten communities.
Middleton Rotary Clubs succession of six Rotary Matching/Global Grants for Rain Catchment Projects over a period of 7/8 years from 2008 have brought 810,000 litres of clean rain water to nearly 10,000 people living in rural communities in the semi-arid areas of Tharaka/Nithi County in Kenya.
Middleton Rotary Club had already linked up with the Rotary Club of Meru in Kenya for a Matching Grant to build a bridge to link two communities together over a river which was deep and dangerously fast running, saving up to 50 lives a year. From this project, one of the Meru Rotarians, Rtn. Julius Mungania who lives in Tharaka/Nithi County, contacted Middleton Club to request help with water projects for the extremely poor and neglected communities in Tharaka /Nithi County.
Over many years members of Middleton Rotary Club have raised funds to complete six Rain Water Catchment Projects, this was achieved thanks to the massive financial support from Rotary Clubs in our own and surrounding Districts, the Foundation Committees of four other Districts in the UK, Rotary Clubs in Salt Lake City Utah (USA) and Rotary Clubs in Denver Colorado (USA) and a donation was also received from a Rotary Club in Russia.
The Club also applied for and was granted, the maximum Grant Matching Funds from both our District Foundation Committee and the International Rotary Foundation.
The fact that members of Middleton Rotary Club visited Tharaka/Nithi and the project sites at their own expense on numerous occasions from 2008 to 2015 was also instrumental in making a success of the projects, also without the committed support of the International Rotary Partners, the members of Rotary Clubs of Meru and Nkubu, these projects would not have been possible.
In addition to Middleton Rotary Clubs six projects, members of Middleton came into contact with Rtns. Judy Zone from Salt Lake City, Utah (USA) and Ralph Ogden from Denver, Colorado (USA), both Judy and Ralph raised the finances in their own Districts to successfully apply for Global Grants for two additional Rain Catchment Projects.
These two additional projects brought clean rain water to about 3,000 people.
The eight Rain Water Catchment Projects most certainly became Rotary International Projects in the truest sense.
To ensure the sustainability of the Rain Water Catchments, members of Middleton Rotary Club visited Tharaka/Nithi and co-operated with the Meru and Nkubu Rotarians to complete an in-depth Needs Assessment over a period of two years. Arrangements were made during that two year period for Middleton and Meru Rotarians to meet the elected committees for each project to discuss the needs of their communities and to ensure that they fully supported the proposed projects.
On completion of each project the elected committee received a comprehensive training programme which was organised locally and contained many aspects to meet local cultural needs, the fair distribution of water to each registered family, and to ensure the water would last until the next rains. Each family would be asked to make a small monthly contribution to build up a fund for future repairs to the simple constructions.
John Brooker from Middleton Rotary said: We have recently received a report from Rtn. Julius Mungana with an update on the continually improving conditions of the eight communities in Tharaka/Nithi County.
The Rain Water constructions are still in extremely good order and continue to provide all year round clean water for all eight communities.
Rtn. Julius Mungania from the Rotary Club of Meru said: The health of all families in the communities has risen dramatically as they have easy access to clean water, educational standards have risen enormously because the children can attend school regularly and no longer have to spend their days searching for water in the dry seasons.
Middleton Rotary Clubs interventions has attracted further projects from other Kenya Government Authorities and NGOs who have copied your ideas.
The National Drought Management Authority, which is a State Corporation of the Kenya Government, has financed the Construction of a Rain Catchment Project with two Water Storage tanks which is bringing 325,000 litres of safe drinking water to 325 children and staff at Rwakarai Primary School and to nearly 2,000 members of the surrounding community.
Kenya Community Development Foundation and Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation co-financed the construction of a Rain Catchment Project with two water storage tanks. This provides 374,000 litres of clean water to the children and staff at Kamariru Primary School and nearly 2,000 members of the local community.
The Upper Tana Catchment Natural Resources Management Project has recently approved a funding of Two Million Kenya Shilling (approximately £13,300) to build a Rain Catchment Project to provide a 135,000 litre tank to provide clean water to the children and staff at Rwakarai Primary School and approximately 2,000 members of the local community.
The construction of these very valued water projects has motivated the communities to develop resources in their areas:
Members of the Mwerera community are now building their own Secondary School, a Health Centre to provide health care for the pupils and staff at Mwerera Primary and Secondary Schools and for the whole of the Mwerera Community. The community is also constructing an Assistant Chiefs Camp (this is part of Kenyan culture) to enhance security in the area.
From one small request and the acceptance of that request Middleton Rotary Club hasnt changed the world but Middleton Rotary Club and all the Rotary Clubs and Districts who have made invaluable contributions, have been instrumental in dramatically changing the lives of a few communities in a small rural area in Tharaka/Nithi, Kenya.
None of this would have been possible without Rotary and without Local, National and International Rotary connections. This is Rotary in Action at its best.
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