(January 29, 2015) Clean, drinkable water in arid countries like Kenya is notoriously hard to find. Sixteen million people (more than one-third of the population) lack access to improved drinking water sources. Just to survive, some drink whatever they have access to—even pools of muddied rainwater. Not surprisingly, water-borne illnesses ensue.
Water well pumps can, and do, make a difference; but without occasional maintenance—whether old or new—they slowly break down, and without any means of notifying those who can repair them. Distance, and sometimes unsafe terrain adds to this costly, frustrating challenge.
Working alongside Design Outreach (DO) and local believers with a heart for ministry to their own people, SonSet Solutions is striving to honor God by addressing this situation. Not only by demonstrating love and concern through access to clean water, but helping to proclaim the Living Water, Jesus Christ, to those in these remote areas who have yet to hear about Him (Romans 10:14).
Stephen Peacock, Community Development lead, traveled to Kenya last November to do just that. Designed by SonSet Solutions, a self-contained monitoring system is connected to the pump. It then continually records its own performance data, and transmits it via satellite to a remote computer server, providing near real-time data such as water flow, internal temperature, and rotations (similar to a car’s mileage). This gives a ‘voice’ to the pump, communicating its own ‘health’ to maintenance teams—spurring repair before failure.
Clearly, the advent of clean, reliable water results in fewer water-borne deaths and illnesses, and facilitates better hygiene. But the benefits don’t stop there. Excess water is used to sustain livestock, cultivate gardens, and enables construction of mud-brick homes. With less time and energy expended gathering water, children have more time to attend school, and everyone has the opportunity to grow together in Christ at church. As David Palmer, an apprentice serving with our Community Development team notes, “Providing clean water and water monitoring opens doors for people and ministries on the ground to enter into communities, build relationships, and ultimately share true, unending life with real people.”
David highlights another facet of the monitoring system—eliminating unnecessary risk and costly trips to determine the status of a pump: “For one of our partners in Kenya, it is a matter of safety for their employees. An armed convoy is required to reach some of their most important pump sites that provide water for hundreds of thousands of people in refugee camps.”
Stephen underscores the importance of living out our faith (James 2:14-17): “There are few experiences in life more precious than seeing a village transformed by clean water, kids enjoying this new luxury, and the openness they have to hearing about a God who loves them.”
By Greg Donner