| May 2, 2019
Imagine Walking 20 Kilometres for a Drink of Water
Imagine walking 20km a day, every day, just to fetch water.
This was the reality for communities in Machakos County, Kenya, where Project Maji is working to bring sustainable, clean drinking water to those in need.
Expanding our footprint geographically, the Project Maji team was in Kenya last month to oversee the kick off of three new sites with our partner, the Water for Life Trust; now serving sustainable, clean water to 8,000 people in Kenya, with many more sites to come! Progressive discussions took place on how we can build upon this momentum to bring much-needed safe water access to communities living in dire conditions.
In partnership with the Water For Life Trust and Festive Bread, these sites were built in desolate, remote villages in Machakos county, where people walk up to 20km a day to access their nearest water source. This kind of scarcity is unfathomable to most people, yet these populations face the same issues that we see around all the geographies we work. Women losing productive time and kids missing out on school, all because of the time spent collecting water; with journeys so long that there is no choice but to walk in the hours of darkness, putting women and children at great risk.
Hearing the cries of joy and seeing delight on the faces of these communities as we turn on the our taps for the first time remains an indelible inspiration and motivator for all of us at Project Maji. All the hours of hard work and long travel pale into insignificance when we see the value our water brings to these people so desperately in need.
AIDF Africa Innovator of the Year Awards
Project Maji was placed in the top 10 out of 130 applicants for ‘AIDF Africa Innovator of the Year Award’ at the AIDF Africa Summit, which engages all relevant aid and development stakeholders within Africa and beyond. The award recognises individuals and teams for their inspiring leadership, forward-thinking, creative problem solving and implementation of innovative programmes that have helped drive African progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
The AIDF Africa Summit advocates a cross-sector approach through inclusive, effective collaboration and coordination between national and international NGOs, government and UN agencies, Red Cross, donors, investors, development banks and the private sector. Our Kenyan Project Manager, John Otieno, represented Project Maji there.
As our global footprint expands, so too does our community outreach. With the aim of inspiring today’s youth to become tomorrow’s change makers, youth engagement has become a core focus of Project Maji, in the hope that we encourage our global community to take action against the social injustices we witness around us.
Sevenoaks School, UK
Forty students from Sevenoaks School in the United Kingdom swam the equivalent distance from their school grounds to Ghana (3172.80 miles), in an innovative and action-packed campaign: Get in the water to help provide water! to raise funds for the installation of a Project Maji water kiosk in the community of Ekoso. After the village hand pump broke down two years ago, the community of cocoa farmers were living without a safe water source, and with no choice but to fetch water from a muddy stream more than 5km away. In the blistering sun, carrying heavy loads over such a distance was costing the community valuable time, and more importantly, putting their health at great risk. Thanks to the efforts of the students at Sevenoaks School, the community now fetches sustainable, clean water at their newly installed Project Maji water kiosk, which is central to the community; allowing the children of Ekoso to get to school on time, and women to spend more time attending to their cocoa beans in order to provide an income for their families. 12 Sevenoaks students visited the community for the commissioning ceremony, in partnership with a local charity, Reading Spots, to learn about the critical link between education and safe water access in developing nations. A huge thank you to the students of Sevenoaks School for this inspirational achievement, and for being such active global citizens!
Middlesex University, Dubai
Project Maji took part in the Middlesex University Institute of Sustainable Development Impactathon, where students solved real-world problems, and designed innovative solutions to the question ‘How can organisations solve global development challenges?’. Taking place on the margins of the 2019 World Government Summit in Dubai, teams of 4-5 postgraduate students had a mere 100 minutes to hack their solutions and then five minutes to pitch that solution to a panel of judges. The aim of the event is not only a learning experience for the students but also to give participating social enterprises fresh ideas and the opportunity to implement them to scale their impact.
Cambridge University's Judge Business School, UK
Our CEO and Founder, Sunil Lalvani, presented to students at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, sharing the story of his journey from businessman to social entrepreneur. As future world leaders and business moguls, students at top institutions such as Cambridge University are poised to become the next generation of world leaders, whereby the choices they make in their professional lives will have the power to create real impact on the global development stage.
Arcadia School, Dubai
Furthering Project Maji’s community engagement in the UAE, Sunil also spoke at Arcadia Primary School Dubai as part of their entrepreneurial speaker series; teaching children about water consumption practices and the issue of water poverty in developing nations. The children were so receptive to Project Maji’s cause that they brainstormed various fundraising ideas which resulted in hosting a fundraiser sale!
Project Maji Executive Retreat
As an organisation that is so lean and widely dispersed geographically, building personal relationships and sharing experiences on the ground is vital if we are to work together to achieve our ambitious target of positively impacting 1 million people by 2025. In March, the Project Maji management team came together for our annual Executive Retreat to strategise and solve the foreseen challenges as we push forward over the next 12 months. With over 80 years of cumulative experience, each member of the team brings something different to the table, be it commercial business, solar and water expertise, or execution in the field; his collective experience comes together on a deeper level in our shared passion for this common cause as we look forward to doubling our impact in 2019. With special thanks to our Kenyan Director, Gordon Mumbo (who struck us a very special accommodation deal), we stayed at a beautiful venue in the spectacular Masai Mara, starting our days with 6am safari drives before sitting together to brainstorm ideas.
A new team member!
Last but certainly not least, we wish to welcome Ama Yoborba Wilson to the Project Maji team as our Administrative Assistant in Ghana! Ama attended our World Water Day event in Ghana as a visitor and was inspired to approach us that evening to ask to join our team.
Ama has a degree in Management Studies from the University of Cape Coast and has a passion for social work. Prior to joining the Project Maji team, Ama worked at Ghana Water Company Limited and was a member of the Red Cross Society in her youth. With her keen interest for community development as well as her education in business, we are confident that Ama will bring much-added value to our busy team, and we look forward to working with her!