“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.”

Growing up in California, I have always valued water and thought I conserved it… thought.

On the Laikipia Plateau, the home location of Daraja Academy, water is a life or death issue. There are several rivers and creeks that run through the area which originate high on Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare mountain range. However, the area around the school, though bountiful, would never have been mistaken for a rainforest because it is located on the dry-side of Mt. Kenya.

Daraja Academy relies on the Uwaso Nanyuki River to provide water to maintain the campus, shower, water the milk cows, flush toilets, use in the kitchen, mop floors etc. However, due to numerous factors, including global warming, deforestation, and nearby commercial farming, today the amount of water in the rivers and falling from the clouds has dropped to dangerous levels.

Until last year, the Uwaso Nanyuki River had never run dry… on February 2nd, 2009 that changed. The academy went into conservation mode and was ok… for about two weeks. We began to conserve harder and were ok for another two weeks. Finally, we paid a fire truck to bring us 30,000 liters from town.

When the emergency water was close to running out, it rained on Mt. Kenya. The flow from the mountain gave us only a foot of water in the river basin, and we narrowly made it until the rainfall came.

With 26 more students arriving tomorrow and 26 more over the next two years, investing in the water project is vital right now.

Although the water situation is a daunting one, we have long-term sustainable solutions:

1.            Supplement the existing water tank: When the river is full it is VERY FULL. We want to dig a 20 foot by 20 foot, 5 foot deep hole at the highest point of campus, next to an existing tank which water is already pumped up to every night. This way, we would have enough river water to see us through the driest drought – without major expense or alteration of existing systems.

2.            Digging several reservoirs: When it rains in Kenya, it rains HARD. Topographically, the campus has two hills, one of which is shaped like a bowl. During heavy rains, water pours down these hills and runs away. Literally it rains so hard that only a fraction of the rainwater absorbs into the ground. By digging several reservoirs in strategic places we could collect more water than the school could possibly use in a year. In fact, we would have enough left over to create a trough outside of our fence, so the local herders could water their stock during severe drought.

With your help, Daraja wants to implement sustainable solutions to the water situation as soon as next month. After crunching the numbers and asking local business’ and NGO’s help, we believe that we can create a sustainable water system which would benefit our students, campus and local community for  $55,000.

The exciting news is that we have a head start: The Do a Little Foundation has generously offered to lead with a gift of $20,000.

With your help, we can make this happen. It will be a gift for all forthcoming Daraja girls, starting with the ones that arrive tomorrow.

Ways to donate to the water project:

  • Go to the Daraja homepage and click on Paypal Link. Make a note that the donation is specifically for water project through paypal or send a note, upon donating, to info@daraja.org
  • Send checks to the Daraja office at:

228 Margarita Drive

San Rafael, CA 94901

Memo line: Water Project