Proposal for Critical Water Provision

Kamungi Community Conservancy - Poverty Alleviation

Proposal for Critical Water Provision


Safe and acceptable water for human consumption that is available in sufficient quantity, physically accessible and affordable is a crucial prerequisite for human wellbeing. Access to safe water is not only fundamental to good health but also to satisfactory livelihoods, dignity and prospects for economic growth and education. The lack of access to sufficient amounts of safe water leads to human suffering and to loss of human potential, which is ethically indefensible as well as economically wasteful.

Nestling on the border of Tsavo East National Park near Mtito Andei in southern Kenya are the remote villages of Ngiluni and Kamunyu - merged to form Kamungi for ease of reference. Kamungi is Home to approximately 2000 people of the WaKamba tribe. Due to the remoteness of the area, the raging heat and lack of water, this marginalized community is failing to thrive.

The Tsavo Trust (TT) is a field based, Kenyan not-for-profit conservation organization based within the Kamungi community, working towards protecting wildlife and its habitat as well as lifting the community out of poverty and promoting community engagement in conservation.

About Tsavo Trust

Tsavo sceneryTsavo Trust was registered in December 2012, and based within the Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA) on the border of Tsavo East National Park (TENP) as is the Kamungi community. The Trust was founded by professionals from the conservation, wildlife management and legal fields, who have experience in the Tsavo region and an understanding of its ecological and socio-economic importance to Kenya. We are committed to working in partnership with governmental, non-governmental, community and private stakeholders to attain a shared vision for a healthy, sustainable and increasingly prosperous Tsavo Conservation Area.

The Tsavo Trust plans to reduce poverty through employment, education, healthcare, water projects, agricultural best practice and implement a volunteer program.

Our team at Tsavo Trust lives all year round in Tsavo, allowing us to fully appreciate and understand the needs and challenges faced by our fellow Tsavo residents. Over the years we have been able to identify the key needs of the Kamungi community, from the water situation to education and livelihoods and human wildlife conflict. Health, education and sanitation are all extremely basic and lacking and Tsavo Trust has identified that the leading cause for this failure to thrive, is due to a lack of water. Through the TT’s Community Conservancy Program (CCP) it has engaged with the WaKamba community from Ngiluni and Kamunyu villages with the long-term goal of establishing a self-governing community-led wildlife conservancy whereby the TT acts as a catalyst and steward for its development. There are many issues that need to be addressed, however without a reliable, clean water source, none of them can take full effect and reach full potential. Tsavo Trust is now taking an exclusive focus towards increasing water supply, availability and accessibility.

The Community and Conservation

The land tenure in this area is under the Ngiluni Settlement Scheme of 1974, which encompasses individually owned parcels of land ranging from 50 to 300 acres each.

Over the years, this community has struggled to make a living through farming their land due to the semi-arid climate that does not favor small-scale agriculture. This poor farming environment has lead to many cases of malnutrition. A lack of water in the area compounds both the issues of lack of sustainable agriculture and livestock farming, it also has an impact on sanitation. Poor sanitation and malnutrition all lead to healthcare needs, which cannot be adequately provided. Annual rainfall can be as low as 250mm. Proximity of the community to the TENP has led to Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) on a regular basis.

Dry river bed in Tsavo Conservation AreaBecause this community is socially marginalized and struggling economically, illegal extraction of natural resources (wildlife poaching, hard wood extraction and charcoaling) from inside the TENP by community members is commonplace. Historically, the WaKamba were expert bow and arrow hunters (often using lethal poison on their arrow tips). Due to the region’s poor economy, this tradition continues today, having a negative impact on Tsavo’s elephant population but also the community themselves due to arrests being made, leading to large fines causing family rifts and isolation – whole families are effected.

The conservancy will facilitate the creation of alternative livelihoods that improve and diversify income streams for the community and reduce the current pressure of illegal natural resource extraction within the National Park. Improved healthcare will be a key catalyst for change. It is worth noting that this region also serves as an entry point for illegal livestock incursions into the park and for “bushmeat” poachers who snare an indiscriminate variety and unsustainable number of wild animals. People also enter the park from here to fell hard wood trees for timber and for charcoal burning and woodcarvings.

Community Ownership

Kamungi Community meetingThe Kamungi Community Conservancy is owned and managed by the community themselves through an elected Board of Trustees, which instills ownership, and with this, commitment.

The Tsavo Trust provides guidance, fund raising potential, governance and commitment to make the Kamungi Conservancy beneficial for wildlife and the people that live there.

The Wakamba - A brief history

The Kamba tribe, also called the Akamba, is a Bantu ethnic group residing in the semi-arid Eastern Province of Kenya. Their homeland stretches east from Nairobi towards the Tsavo’s and Northeast to Embu.

Wakamba hunterAs the fifth largest tribe, Kambas make up about 11 percent of Kenya's total population. They speak the Kamba (or Kikamba) language. They are famous for their hunting skills and have a truly fascinating history as both hunters and traders. They are generally kind and gentle people with a good nature. They are also extremely skilled craftsmen and are often engaged in economic activities, most popular being cattle-herding and farming. Sadly, their intimate knowledge of the bush and hunting skills, passed down from generations and their harsh and marginalized living conditions, make them targets for exploitation by dealers and merciless trophy hunters in the illicit illegal wildlife trade. Those from economically struggling communities, such a Kamungi, are easily swayed and find themselves caught up in the dark trade – they are victims along with the wild animals they are tasked to hunt.

“...The Wakamba bows are so powerful that they can shoot an arrow through a Masai buffalo-hide shield and kill the man behind it. As the Masai shields were tough enough to stop an Arab musket ball in the old days, this gives some idea of the penetration quality of the Wakamba weapons."

Project Proposal

Tsavo Trust would like to propose the construction of a borehole aiming at providing clean and safe water to this marginalized but very deserving community. Part 1 of the project will be initiated with immediate effect, the moment funding becomes available and will be carried out over a period of 3 months.

Part 1 of the Project will include:

  • Conducting a detailed Hydrological survey to identify the most suitable location for sinking the borehole.
  • Purchasing of the land where the borehole is to be sunk.
  • Mobilising the community to fully participate in the project implementation. In mobilizing the community, the Tsavo Trust will conduct several meetings where it will be explained on how the project will be conducted and other project conditions which include community contribution. The meetings will help to create awareness and readiness for participating in the project implementation and ongoing management.
  • Formation of a Water Maintenance Committee (WMC), which will be formed by the community that will consist of 10 villagers, 5 from Ngiluni and 5 from Kamunyu and they will be responsible for managing the water distribution and in charge of pump and pump house maintenance.
  • Purchasing and transportation of building material - this activity will be done soon after receiving funds.
  • Contractors for the entire implementation of the borehole to be mobilized.
  • Laying pipelines to the two schools and the Ingiluni Dispensary.
  • The water will be distributed from the main source and separate distribution to the two schools and dispensary will be fed by gravity through pipelines.
  • Conducting training to 10 WMC on how to care and maintain the pump and pump house.

Part 2 of the project will begin once the borehole is in place and the management dispersal systems conducted by the WMC is proving to run successfully and there is clear evidence of a sustainable, reliable water supply. With a separate proposal, Tsavo Trust would then like to address our plans to introduce a self sustaining animal and horticultural farming project, which will provide fresh produce for the entire Kamungi community.

Tsavo Trust will coordinate the entire project while seeking technical advice from the experts.

  • The Hydrological survey for water source will be carried out by an outside contractor.
  • Tsavo Trust will do all the necessary preparation work to purchase and prepare the land.
  • All locally available materials for the borehole development work, namely wood, stones and sand will be collected by the community.
  • The borehole construction will be carried out by a reputable outside contractor
  • The water will be distributed from the reservoirs by gravity through pipelines directed to the 2 local schools (Ngiluni and Kamunyu) as well as a pipeline direct to the Medical Dispensary.
  • Tsavo Trust will initiate and partake in community meetings and training initiatives needed to form the WMC committee as mentioned above.

Community Involvement

kamungi community involvementThe villagers have been involved fully in identification and approval of this project. They will participate effectively during implementation of project activities.
The villagers have demonstrated their unfolding commitment to work with TT in addressing their water problem.

TT will ensure that all people from varying backgrounds have the opportunity to contribute to the identification of problems and solutions – community leaders and influential individuals, the elderly, women, children and many others.

The community have also volunteered to collect all locally available materials for the borehole development work, (wood, stones and sand). They will also provide much of the labour needed for construction of a borehole.
The established WMC will play a leadership and coordination role in the process. As per the suggestions of the community members it will have 10 members (men and women) 5 from Ngiluni and 5 from Kamunyu. Their roles will be to represent the beneficiaries, co-ordinate the provision of materials and administer the overall implementation.
To enable this, TT will provide training for the committee and selected community members on leadership, management, operation and maintenance of the scheme.
The water will be distributed in accordance with the WMC’s decisions. The WMC, together with larger village gatherings, will decide on reasonable fees to charge the users. These contributions will be collected and used for on-going maintenance. The WMC will also devise a ‘benefit’ system for those families who are facing particularly difficult times and are unable contribute at that time.

Project Sustainability

The project beneficiaries will pay minimum water charges to sustain the costs of project implementation. The collected funds will be used for operation and maintenance of project activities. The WMC Treasurer will be responsible for collecting money from the water users.

Monitoring and Evaluation

The villagers and their elected WMC will monitor the day-to-day
implementation of the project. Tsavo Trust will provide the necessary technical backup as well as regularly monitor and track the work to ensure it meets the desired objectives of the project at the required quality and standard. Financial and progress reports will be provided at key points of the project. After two years, an overall evaluation of the project will be undertaken involving all relevant actors.

Potential problems/concerns and their solutions

One of the biggest questions often surrounding water projects such as this is “How will you control the demand”. It is true, providing water can potentially create a ‘bees around a honey pot’ scenario leading to unwanted conflicts and hostile situations. People from far off communities also desperate for water may understandably want to ‘move in’ on the water supply, which will lead to an overload at the pumping site and cause conflict. There are a few solutions to this problem;

  • Membership of the conservancy – Kamungi is a registered community based organization (CBO) and is also registered with the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Assosiation. (KWSA) With this a members registry comprising of 600 people has been documented. The remaining 1400 people will more than likely become members of this conservancy very quickly.
  • The community elected WMC will create a ‘membership’ scheme, therefore homesteads who have contributed to this fund will be allowed access. As stated earlier, families going unable to pay for whatever reason will be put on benefit scheme devised by the WMC. Those on the committee will also have incentive to manage and distribute the water supply fairly and responsibly through training and encouragement, giving them a sense of pride and ownership. Each household will be issued with a ‘Membership Card’ designed and provided by TT.
  • Implementing a formal ‘hours of operation’ scheme. Each homestead will be issued with a timetable of when they are to collect their water and the borehole will only be open at certain times of the for water collection. At these times, the site will be managed by elected members of the WMC to issue and oversee the collection process.
  • Sinking the borehole on land that is owned by the Tsavo Trust gives TT ultimate control over the site. A secure perimeter fence, lockable gate and secure pump house, plus the employment of one or two security men ‘askaris’ will ensure that the site is secure during ‘closed hours’. Tsavo Trust can also provide diplomacy in situations that involve community members from the outside ‘moving in’.


Kamungi Conservancy consists of two rural communities with an estimated population of 2,000 people and suffers from a lack of clean water supply. The community has undergone unheard human miseries due to constant droughts and unreliable rainfalls. Most of the rivers in the area are seasonal, an indication that there is no constant water supply. The community relies on water from wells, which run dry if droughts persist. There are also ponds of stagnant water which are used by both the human and animal community, therefore people are regularly suffering from serious illness caused by unsanitary conditions.

8 kilometres from the center of the Kamungi community, runs the Athi River, often a popular water source, however at certain times of year, especially during dry spells (when the people need it the most), this water has been stated as unfit for human consumption by the Kenya Water Board due to heavy industrial pollution. Records taken from the local Dispensary indicate the following diseases; Cholera, Typhoid, Amoeba, Dysentery, Diarrhoeas, Scabies, Trachoma, Fluorosis, Skeletal deformities, etc. – all are diseases brought about by contaminated water supplies.

With this in mind, there is no question that if we were able to provide a clean, well-managed and reliable water supply to this deserving community, their two schools and the dispensary through the sinking of a borehole, it will significantly enhance their livelihoods.

Digging for water     Polluted rivers     treating a child

Extra Benefits

The project is expected to boost the local economy and generated more business for the villagers as well as improving the child health standards through provision of clean water at the two local schools and dispensary as well as;

  • Providing water for livestock thus enhancing productivity of the animals. Healthy livestock means healthy living for all.
  • Improving nutrition. The villagers will be able to practice horticulture farming using water from the borehole. (Part 2 of the project to come).
  • Improvement of environment – due to better land productivity, the community shall start to thrive, meaning less need for charcoal burning, poaching and the felling of trees and vegetation.
  • The project will also serve as a prototype that could potentially be replicated in other neighboring villages and districts.



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