Thanks to the first hydrogeological study carried out in Pate Island, located in Lamu County, we realized that none of the more than 200 wells available in the area provided fresh water. We drilled two more wells, each 200 meters deep, in the villages of Siyu and Pate, but laboratory results indicated that the water source was still unsuitable for human consumption. For this reason, thanks to Eni Kenya B.V., we allocated other funds to build a desalination plant that could help solve the problem. We designed a reverse osmosis unit powered entirely by solar energy capable of producing about 20,000 liters per day. The direct beneficiaries of the project are the two thousand inhabitants of the Siyu community, but in the drought period the unit helps more than 6,500 people every day.
Significant data at the end of the project
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Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an action program signed in September 2015 by 193 UN member Countries that incorporates 17 Goals aimed at the socio-economic development of communities and territories. With this project we contribute to ensuring the availability and sustainable management of clean water and sanitation (Objective 6).
We consider workplace safety an essential value that we share with employees, contractors and local communities. For this reason, we implement all necessary actions to avoid accidents, including organizational models for risk assessment and management, training plans, skills development and promotion of a safety culture.
The impact on the environment and on the community
Although Kenya boasts booming socio-economic development, many East African communities are struggling to achieve adequate living standards. Lamu County, for example, has long been plagued with water problems. The population used traditional means of collecting rain or water from shallow wells, causing a high percentage of cases of typhus, Escherichia Coli and other diseases in the local community.
We conducted a social health study on the northern coast of Kenya and in the surrounding regions, with specific attention to the Counties of the Tana River, Kilifi and Lamu, historically marginalized and affected by high rates of morbidity, mortality and poor access to clean water. After sharing the results of the analysis with all stakeholders, we designed an access to health and clean water program in agreement with the County Government of Lamu, with whom we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2014.
The project was carried out by involving the community from the construction and plant development phase through to maintenance phases. Kenyan companies were selected, a community awareness program called Baraza was carried out and adequate training was provided to people to ensure a lasting life for the plant. Our approach to solving the problem of access to water in Kenya was the first of its kind to be applied in the region and serves as reference for new social responsibility interventions and for the development of marginalized areas in the country.
The value of experience
The solar-powered desalination plant project acted as a catalyst and a model for both the County Government of Lamu and donor organizations present in the region that are now also undertaking similar projects with a view to increasing the accessibility to clean water and sanitation for Lamu’s local communities.
The desalination plant was built with the collaboration of the local government and the Kenyan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum. The project was also monitored by the Milan Health Unit.
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