A community in southern Kenya facing an urgent water shortage, now has easy access to drinking water thanks to a fund set up by Earthwatch scientists.
In 2006 scientists on Tidal Forests of Kenya established a committee of five men and five women from Gazi village, Gazi Bay. The committee acts as a formal channel of communication and advises the scientists on how money raised for local projects can be spent.
As a result of this fund, the first project has involved the installation of a water pump in the village, providing water to around 650 villagers.
The lead scientist on Tidal Forests of Kenya, Dr. Mark Huxham, explains: "We wanted to be sure we were responding to the villagers' priorities in our spending, rather than being influenced by particular individuals. The water pump was a response to a request we received from the committee for help back in February.
There is a reliable, clean deep well in Gazi which feeds pipes leading to some standpipes (for those without water in their houses), and also the taps in houses with running water. The pump that used to bring water up was broken, so people were having to go to alternative wells which are inconvenient. We were happy to respond to this emergency request using the funds raised by Earthwatch staff and volunteers."
Gazi Bay is in the Kwale district of Kenya, 55km south of Mombasa. Chairman of the Gazi-Earthwatch committee, Twaha Mohamed Ahmed, said: "It is excellent. Everybody is getting water. We don't have a problem with the water now."
The next project, once again in response to discussions with the committee, is to build a new block for the school in Gazi village.
Tidal Forests of Kenya is helping to maintain and restore mangrove ecosystems, one of the world's most threatened ecosystems. Since 2004 Earthwatch volunteers have planted more than 9,000 trees, analysed more than 1,000 soil samples and recorded the development of crab communities in 152 plots. They are helping to estimate the carbon stocks present in mangroves, as a contribution to research on climate change, and how fish migrate in and out of these forests.
Images © Dr. Martin Skov