Living in the Bush: without water

October 10, 2014

General, Kitui, Kenya Partnership


The sun beats down from directly overhead, burning the skin after a very short while. The breeze does provide some relief, especially in the shade. It is the end of the dry season and there is little vegetation on the ground.  Many of the trees are bare, though some trees stubbornly stay green. The ground is hard. The washboard dirt roads have numerous ruts and washouts … driving 15-20 kilometers can take an hour or more.

Outside of the mountain range to the north and to the south within the county of Kitui (like a US state), water is the everyday issue.  The majority of the people do not have electricity, do not have water, do not have sanitary facilities, do not have vehicles and make what little they have by subsistence farming.  They grow and sell fruits and vegetables during the rainy season. There are basically two seasons in Kitui … rainy and dry.  This is the end of the dry season, and the fields have been made ready for the rains.  As soon as they come, the fields and gardens will be planted and the area will transform into a lush green vista. They hope.

The water has been gone from the rivers for quite some time now and all of the watering holes are dry.  People must walk to a watering station in a nearby village, if there is one.  Or it is not uncommon to see someone in the dry riverbed digging a hole 3-4 feet deep to reach enough water to fill their water buckets.  Six-to-eight water buckets are placed on their donkey to be brought back to meet all their needs … cooking and cleaning and drinking.


Their families are strong; they live in tight-knit communities of help and support; the elders are respected; the young are encouraged; they are joyful and friendly, kind and generous, practical and resourceful. It is eye-opening to see how unrelated wealth and joy are.