Rugusu Water Project

Project LocationMeru District, Kenya
Project TypeWater resource management
Benefiting Locally500

Rugusu Water Project

The lack of a clean and reliable water supply affects around 3 billion people, or half of the world’s population. In 88 developing countries, with 40% of the world’s population, water shortage is a serious restraint to development. Although most of the water extracted on a global scale is carried out by the West, Africa suffers from inefficient use of its water which, if rectified, could increase water availability by one quarter.

The Rugusu spring, located on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy boundary, sustains a population of over 100 families and 2,000 livestock. For many years, the spring was misused and there was no responsible and organised management of water use. Cattle were watered, clothes were washed, and people bathed and drank, all from the source. Consequently, the water became badly polluted and water borne diseases seriously affected both the Rugusu community and neighbouring communities downstream. In addition, the source of the spring was badly eroded and denuded of vegetation, reducing the water supply.

The problems that arose can be summarised as follows:

• Direct damage to the eye of the spring from livestock trampling
• Serious water pollution following rains as a result of using surrounding bushes as toilets
• Spring depletion due to direct drawing of water from the source 
• Pollution and degradation of spring from donkeys, cattle, sheep and goats
• Erosion of spring banks due to overgrazing in the area of the spring
• Conflicts in the community over access to the spring

Rugusu Water Project

Using very simple technology a solution was found to all of these problems. Now, the source of the spring is protected by fencing. The flow from the spring is now regulated to ensure that water is not wasted and is channelled in the correct way. A portion of the water is now diverted into designated areas where livestock can be watered, clothes can be washed, and an ablution area is provided. Most of the water is diverted down stream to maintain the flow and provide a lifeline to other communities

This simple project has changed the lives of this community and others in the region. First and foremost, there are no longer any conflicts within the community about rights of access to the water and communities downstream have seen a steep decline in water borne disease as their water now comes directly from the source. As the spring is now properly managed and cared for, additional water is now available for a tree nursery. The community has planted over 50 trees at the project site for shade and aesthetic reasons as well as planting more than 300 trees in their homes and neighbouring communities. People have now begun to understand and appreciate the importance of restoring this vital lifeline and the surrounding ecosystem.

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