Monthly Archives: January 2014

Walking for Water

Women of Samburu walk up to 12 miles each day to get water that isn’t always sanitary. I know this fact is written all over the Samburu Project website, instagram, facebook, basically every form of social media you can think of, but I think for a lot of us this idea is difficult to grasp. 12 miles is insanely far to walk. That’s one mile shy of a half marathon, and people train for months at a time for those! I personally get winded on my 15-20 minute walk to class (a mile at most) so 12 miles sounds pretty unbearable. And these women are doing this almost daily. Think of all of the things we do instead of walking in a day. School, work, sports, leisure, everything. Without convenient access to water, Samburu women and children are denied almost all aspects of life we assume are inherent. Imagine not being able to attend school because you need to get some water. It sounds ridiculous but this is the unfortunate reality for millions around the world. The Samburu people need water to survive, however, they have no hope of advancing in the economic or educational world if they have to spend all of their time walking to water.

Silango School

Even worse, most of the water they consume is contaminated, leading to an entirely new set of problems. Water borne illnesses account for more the 3.4 million deaths per year, most of them children. In addition to the tragic loss of life, there is an economic loss. Parents may remove themselves from labor force to care for a sick child meaning they have less to provide the rest of the family. Most of these common illnesses are virtually obsolete in the developed world because of the infrastructure in place that sanitize and transport water. Some may suggest moving closer to where the water is, but for most that is not an option. Samburu land is their culture and leaving it would mean taking on an entirely new way of life. Wells allow for the Samburu people to nurture the growth of their culture and the health of their bodies, encouraging future prosperity for the people.

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Meet Our Interns: Rachael

I have been interning at the Samburu Project for about 4 months now and it has been a real learning opportunity for me. At the beginning of the school year, I was definitely stressed about my skills and past experience in terms of entering the work force. I am a senior at UCLA studying International Development so I guess you could say that I was and still am a little nervous about graduating. After a long summer full of professional rejection (lol) I was feeling a little discouraged. But I got lucky and a friend of mine told me about an opening at the Samburu Project so applied immediately. I have a few friends who worked here in the past so I thought it was a great opportunity. I’m not going to lie…I did not have a strong interest in water sanitation/accessibility, I was a lot more concerned about actually having an internship and getting general experience.
I first worked with another intern in social media to publicize our Samburu Splash Bash event in November. Digging through old pictures and articles, I became familiar with past accomplishments and how much work it takes to drill just one well (and we’ve drilled 63!). I’ve learned what water scarcity means and the distinct social and economic implications it has. In my area of study, we mostly talk about theories of development…why this method failed…why this economist was wrong…why we even look at development. After talking so much about development, being at the Samburu Project is refreshing and enlightening. I actually get to see where theory is put into action and the impact we are having on those most in need. I can definitely say I’ve learned a lot about an issue that at times is overlooked amongst other global concerns. But the truth is, water is at the base of it all: education, economic stability, women’s empowerment, health, anything. Water creates the opportunity to develop in the first place.

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From Santa Monica to Samburu

It’s a perfect sunny and 75° at the Samburu Project Office in Santa Monica, ideal for any outdoor activity and every tourist’s dream. There’s only one problem: it’s the middle of January…wintertime…the rest of the country is freezing. Southern California is, in fact, in the middle of a serious drought not unlike the one all of northern Kenya is facing. But what does it mean to be in the middle of a drought in California compared to the middle of a drought in rural Kenya? Why is it I hear about the impending water shortage, yet when I turn on my faucet water comes out? Why does a drought in Kenya have a devastating impact on the people and economy while in California, we are only faced with the horror of turning off our sprinklers? Depending on where you look, water scarcity and drought can be a minor inconvenience or cause for thousands of deaths, but where does the difference come from?


Water scarcity can be divided into two different categories: economic scarcity and physical scarcity. Economic scarcity suggests that water is physically there, however, a region lacks the infrastructure or bureaucracy to reach and distribute water, making access impossible and forcing more people to share the same dwindling water source. Physical scarcity signifies an actual shortage in water. California and Kenya are both facing physical scarcity but the economic scarcity intensifies the situation in Kenya. That is why The Samburu Project works so tirelessly to survey land, find wells and provide safe, clean water for up to 1,000 people. We want to give the people of the Samburu the same water security other areas of the world have.

The United Nations and the global community have recognized the importance of reducing water scarcity and so have we. We are proud to say we have brought safe water to upwards of 63,000 people in the Samburu Region with the help of you, our supporters, who share the same belief that if water scarcity does not need to exist, it should not.