Although the Maasai have a rich cultural heritage, which has been critical in marketing Kenya as a tourist destination, parts of Maasailand, including Narok, remain critically underdeveloped. Few in Narok have had access to clean water, health facilities or basic education, despite massive tourist spending in nearby Maasai Mara National Reserve.
A lack of clean, accessible water is one of the most pressing issues in Maasailand. The MEA Water Project works to bring safe and adequate water supplies to the community of the LOITA plains in Narok North & South Districts.
Against this background Maasai Evangelistic Association is working to drill water in the LOITA PLAINS region. In Partnership with various MEA supporters, presently more than four water wells and one deep borehole have been sunk in the region to serve the Maasai people who live in this area.
The MEA Water Project has established a long-term collaboration with friends, Churches, Organizations that shares with us a commitment to clean water projects.
The water from the shallow wells is slightly alkaline/salty. It is acceptable for the livestock to drink (water for livestock is very important as it saves the herdsmen having to walk them for days at a time in search of water) but both from a taste and a health perspective it should only be drunk by the community when alternative fresh water is scarce or in a drought situation.
Despite the water from the Shallow Wells being salty it is much used by the community for washing, cooking and cleaning (as well as for their livestock) and consequently Maasai Evangelistic Association is still keen to provide further Shallow Wells.
The deep borehole at Ormodiei is actually sited on land located on a two acreage that belong to the community. Certainly the community have appointed a ‘Management Committee’ that is responsible for overseeing the running of the borehole. The generator, pump, its housing and a small amount of surrounding land have been securely fenced off BUT the water pipes that feed the troughs and the taps are located outside the fenced off area. The generator is ‘housed’ in a secure solid concrete building. The responsibilities of the Management Committee include security, fuelling and maintenance of the bore hole.
In this connection the Management Committee have employed a F/T person who has the responsibilities of watchman/operator of the generator. This man is on site 24/7 and actually sleeps (has his bed) in the housing of the generator. He oversees/supervises when the herdsmen should come with their livestock to the trough (so they don’t all come at the same time) and he, of course, switches on the generator when needed.
The Management Committee is discussing the levying of a tiny charge per head of livestock to at least cover the cost of fuel and employing the watchman/operator. They are also hoping that this charge may generate a surplus that can be put towards the cost of building additional Shallow Wells.
The ‘fenced off’ land is not vast but it is planned to use this to grow ‘irrigated’ crops particularly during times of drought. Again it would be the responsibility of a community feeding ‘Management Committee’ as to what is planted and how the food items grown are distributed.
One regular argument that is often voiced in the ‘West’ against the provision of water bore holes is that it mitigates against the Maasai traditional nomadic life styles of travelling the Loita plains/hills with their livestock in search of water. However, this nomadic way of life is very much being deliberately stifled by the Kenyan Government that are wanting to see children (especially the boys) go to school and receive a formal education rather than herding the livestock and are therefore bringing in Measures and Acts of parliament that are making the continuation of the nomadic way of life more difficult.
MEA evangelists often visit the borehole site and they spend time preaching to and sharing the gospel with the herdsmen.