Written by Dave Chappell
The climate conditions in Meru have always been difficult, not unlike many tropical areas, Meru typically experiences a dry season and a rainy season. During the rainy season, there has been enough rain to sustain crops and farm animals, but the dry season has been difficult to manage. This has been made much worse after several years of drought even during the rainy season. Most homes have no running water, and the people travel long distances to bring water to their homes for basic necessities for themselves, their crops, and their animals.
Recognizing the need in 2013, the Meru Committee applied for a grant to provide a water source to Kikwe, Karengai, and Maweni villages in southern Meru. The grant was approved by the Synod Council with funds made available from the sale of synod property in Waukesha as St. Andrew’s and Good Shepherd closed.
In collaboration with the Tanzanian Water Ministry, it was decided to tap into the Tenguru Springs at the base of Mt. Meru and run a six-inch underground pipeline from the spring to a refurbished cistern (pictured below) in Kikwe Village located 2.3 km away. With several access points provided, the 15,000 residents now have a convenient source of fresh and safe drinking water. This was an unusual and creative approach as most of the water is provided by deep wells. However, because of unstable formations and toxic levels of fluoride which caused our first attempt at a well to fail, the pipeline approach was selected.
The project was completed early this year and was formally dedicated in August while Bishop Paul Erickson and other members of the Milwaukee delegations were visiting Meru. Joining the Milwaukee group were Bishop Kitoi, members of his staff, Pastor Mbise from Kikwe Parish, and residents of Kikwe. The keynote speaker was Representative Joshua Nassari, the local representative to the Tanzanian Parliament. He expressed his gratitude for the financial, technical, and administrative support for this project, and presented Bishop Paul with a certificate of appreciation.
The pipeline and cistern will serve over 15,000 people, and according to Representative Nassari “provides more than just water” to Kikwe. With water more readily available farmers have more time to work their fields, others have more time to work, and it is much easier for students to attend school.
The next phase of our vision is to extend the pipeline to Karengai, which is another 12 km, but will serve an additional 20,000 residents. The cost range is between $70,000 and $90,000, of which we have 25% to 30% of the required funds. We are seeking partners to help us reach the goal of extending this pipeline.
A complex project like this required patience and trust. We had failures along the way, but with that trust, our faith in God, and willingness to walk in accompaniment with our brothers and sisters in Meru, we have made a huge difference in many lives.
If you would like to help or learn more about this initiative, please contact Dave Chappell (firstname.lastname@example.org) from the Meru Committee or the synod office.