Clean Water

The phrase “Water is Life” is far more true than most Americans can begin to comprehend.  Water-borne disease and death is a common fact of life in the Karachuonyo region of Kenya as the most available sources of water are from highly polluted ponds and rivers.

Clean water is most cost effectively found from two sources:


Drilled wells

A large supply of clean water is available from an aquafer 300 ft below the ground level through volcanic rock; meaning that a mechanically drilled well is needed. Each well drilled is equipped with a basic manually operated hand pump. It provides reliable year-round clean water for approximately 400 people. The cost of drilling, testing, permitting a well is approximately $25,000.

To ensure sustainability, a well committee of local individuals is formed for each well. This group is trained on the operation, maintenance, and repair of the pump prior to SOHI turning it over to the community. The well committee monitors the use of the well and charges a very small amount of money for water taken. This money is accumulated such that within 3 year’s time, enough has been saved to afford purchase of a rebuild/repair kit for the pump. Thus, the people using the well can keep it in good operating condition without continual assistance from outside sources (aka, it’s sustainable). It should be noted that no one is refused water from a SOHI drilled well; if a family cannot afford the small use charge, they are allowed to work for the water taken.


Rainwater Catchment

The region has two rainy seasons and two drought seasons per year. Rainwater collected as runoff from roofs is a good source of clean water in third world countries. This is accomplished through rain gutters routing water from a metal roof to a large (typically 10,000L) plastic tank. This approach is not applicable to most individual houses for various reasons, but is a good source for institutional facilities such as schools and medical clinics; these facilities need ready access to clean water for the health of children and patients. A sufficiently sized system will generally supply sufficient clean water to see a school or clinic through the drought season. A typical rainwater catchment system costs approximately $5,000. taken.



Equally critical to health improvements is sanitation.  SOHI provides resources for such items as latrines, girls’ sanitary products, as well as teaching basic sanitation principals at the schools and to well committees.  These actions have already made a significant difference in the areas where they have been done.  However, much work remains.  A donation of any amount will help these efforts and may well save a life.


1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water, roughly one-sixth of the world’s population.

2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.

Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from water related illnesses.

In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more children than all the people lost to armed conflict since World War II.

50 percent of people on earth lack adequate sanitation.

African women walk an average of 3.6 miles to collect water.

Tens of millions of children cannot go to school, as they must fetch water every day. Drop out rates for adolescent girls skyrocket once their period starts due to no provisions for sanitation.

The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than war claims through guns.

The average American uses 100 gallons of water per day vs. 5 gallons per day for the average African family.