World Vision vows to keep working to provide safe water for Silale

Children’s charity World Vision is in discussions with local authorities on ways to provide safe water to the people of Riongo village in Silale, Baringo County.

This follows the decision taken to demolish the existing borehole after local residents broke down barriers preventing them from accessing a potentially unsafe source of water.

“I personally sympathise with the people of Riongo village, because their nearest safe water source is now 15 kilometres away. We are determined to continue our five-year effort to help this community get access to safe water,” said Francois Batalingaya, National Director of World Vision Kenya today.

Mr Batalingaya yesterday met with key local authority experts to talk about options for the future.

In 2013, World Vision Kenya assessed the surface water supplies which the people of Silale were using. They were contaminated with parasites, causing illness among children and adults. In partnership with Baringo County and the Rift Valley Water Services Board, World Vision agreed to dig the borehole.

When the charity’s experts tested the water, in accordance with normal professional practice, they discovered high levels of fluoride. Fluoride gets into water supplies through a natural process, as rock formations leach the mineral into ground water. Water with high fluoride levels is considered unsafe as it can cause long-term damage to bones and teeth – though it is not implicated in miscarriages, as some local people came to fear.

To lower the fluoride levels, World Vision Kenya installed a treatment system to purify the water.

Tests showed that the purification system functioned well initially. Recently, however, regular testing of the water showed that levels of fluoride had started to rise.

World Vision drew this to the attention of the local authorities, and together they took steps to fence off the borehole in order to keep local people from drinking the water.

Unfortunately, the long, dry spell which has recently affected the area encouraged some community members to break down the fence surrounding the borehole to access the water. That led to the decision to demolish it.

“As a Christian organisation dedicated to the well-being of children, World Vision takes seriously its obligation to save lives and promote good health, especially among the most vulnerable,” said Mr Batalingaya.

“Finding a solution in a remote place like Silale is difficult. It is made even more complicated now that we know that boreholes are not a safe, long-term answer in this region. But there is no way we will turn our back on this community.”