by Christian DeVries
A dam at the Maasai Animal Health and Livestock Marketing Project at Suswa Center in Kenya. Located in a small valley, the dam collects rain water and stores it in nearby containers. Photos by Russ Powell
I was surprised when I found out that Suswa Centre had no electricity. On the way into town I had seen newly-built power lines; however, even though the Kenyan government installed lines to the town in 2010, not a single family has been connected.
Although I was surprised they didn’t have electricity, I was totally shocked to learn that Suswa — a town of 2,000 inhabitants — has no running water.
Josephat Mutinda (right) and Charles Otieno stand on a water holding tank overlooking the Maasai Animal Health and Livestock Marketing Project.
Currently all of the town’s water has to be brought in by truck, and in the dry season it can cost $0.27 per gallon (6.00 Kenya Shillings per liter). While this might not sound like much, you have to remember that animals need water too, so thousands of dollars are spent every day.
Ramat, with Heifer’s assistance, has built a series of weirs, pipes and water tanks to capture rain and ensure their cattle always have fresh water. In addition to generating electricity and piping gas, the Ramat Holding Center plans to pipe water into town where it can be sold substantially cheaper than current rates.
This project is a great example of how Heifer helped by providing families what they really needed. Instead of farmers receiving a cow when they already have so many, Heifer gave them a place to sell their cattle, training to ensure more animals would make it to market, and skills and tools to protect the environment. Soon the entire community’s standard of living is set to improve.