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Lifewater International and Cooperative Water Management

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October 12, 2009


Sharon welcomed the listeners and talked about the importance of water in life and life in water. She said that it is imperative for everyone to realize the importance of water, to drink plenty of water and to carry water with them if they are unsure of a water source. Dehydration, or lack of water, is out of control in our world and causes or contributes to ailments from allergies to obesity.

Guest: Kinoti Meme, PhD

Kinoti Meme, PhD (San Luis Obispo, CA), Director of Education & Training, Lifewater International. "Training Local People to Help Each Other in Developing Countries."

Dr. Meme was born in a village in Kenya where there was plenty of water but it had to be carried a half-mile from the river twice each day and was often contaminated. He was able to attend school but always got up early to help fetch the water. Since water is the foundation of life and the basis for health, hygiene and economic development, he has devoted his life to making sure everyone has good water.

It was noted that 1.4 million children die from poor water and poor sanitation each year, which translates to 4,500 a day.

Lifewater International, Dr. Meme's organization, concentrates on assisting and empowering local community organization rather than direct well drilling. Their program also educates children and teachers on the correct use of water - how to keep it clean, how to protect water sources, when to wash your hands, etc. The benefit is not sustainable is the community simply drills a well, with no ongoing follow-up support.

Lifewater is a non-profit Christian organization founded by Bill Ash in the 1970's and they frequently work through church and religious groups ("Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, that you do unto me." Matthew 25:40).

Dr. Meme was asked about the California water crisis and noted that California was not one of their target areas. However, water priorities are an important issue - whether to allocate scarce water to drinking and bathing, or to agriculture and industry to produce income.

Sharon asked about the developing crisis in Kenya of animal migration and increasingly dry rivers. The main concern, according to Dr. Meme, is the Ewaso Ng'iro River basin, which originates in the glaciers on Mt. Kenya, Africa's second highest peak and for eons has been a large and reliable water source for the arid and sparsely unpopulated areas of northern Kenya. As a result, the Ewaso Ng'iro River helps sustain one of the largest wildlife populations on Earth. Sadly, in recent years, the Kenyan government has encouraged over-settlement of the region, as a result of which, trees were cut down, too much water was diverted and, when combined with prolonged drought, and the river is drying up for wildlife.

The discussion then turned to water wells. Shallow wells (30 to 60 feet) are the most economical, obviously, but in desert areas, it is usually necessary to go much deeper. Deep wells are far more expensive. One well in 10 produces bad water.

Lifewater has a training program for volunteer field trainers who conduct follow-up programs after the water system is installed by traveling around visiting sites and continuing to monitor and work with the local organizations. Their website is

Categories: Ecology and the environment; international health organizations; water and sanitation; 2009