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Water Piping and Purification for the Nomadic Maasai People, Tanzania

Due to the water shortages across East Africa, people are drinking unsafe water and becoming ill or dying. The depend on check dams (a small dam constructed across a drainage ditch, swale, or channel) from rains that only arrive once in a while. This is not sustainable throughout the year. The Maasai are a nomadic community, so this is a great challenge since they have to move miles and miles to get water for domestic use and for the animals. People have suffered several diseases due to poor sanitation and the lack of safe and clean water for drinking and domestic uses.

Thousands of cows, goats, donkeys and other wild animals are dying of hunger and thirst. The drought was extreme- no water, no grass for the animals. Most of the time people take water for domestic use from the same source as the animals. They also fetch from stagnant waters when there is no alternative. Urinary tract infections and typhoid are both very common in the school and surrounding area. The students have had to forego bathing and other critical hygiene routines due to lack of water supply. The sisters have spent money to purchase water, which was not an anticipated expense. In addition, the water is needed to maintain the vegetable garden for healthy and natural food.

Boreholes were dug using past gifts from the Sisters of Notre Dame of the United States, the Congregational Fund, and the Bridges of St. Mark outreach. This year through a donation from the Conrad Hilton Fund for Sisters, the community was able to solve the problem of supplying clean water to the dormitories, kitchen, toilets and classrooms. Storage tanks, a solar pump, and more adequate piping were purchased in order to accomplish this goal.

Notre Dame Osotwa School is a gathering place for the people of the area. With the availability of water on site, people know they can come to the Sisters when they are in need. In addition, the Sisters have been able to cultivate vegetables now that water is more reliable, providing much needed healthy food for the students in the school as well as the community at large. The students now have water for cleaning and bathing as well, which encourages proper hygiene and reduces illness. Members of the community and even neighboring church choirs have come to enjoy the outdoor space. In addition to meeting the need for water, this project also cultivated community in the region and encouraged collaboration between the Sisters, the school, tribal leaders, and neighboring faith communities.

Sr. Phyllis Kaluki delights in the project’s success, “I have learned that God’s timing is the best and I should always pray in trust and hope in him. I have also learned that all things are possible in him. It is a blessing to have water flowing in our community in Simanjiro.”

To support this and other outreach to the poor and marginalized, please visit and select “Global Missions” as your designation.

Construction Progress: Solar Pump and Storage Tanks, Notre Dame Osotwa School, Tanzania

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