Tweed and Kenya share a glass

Article image - Tweed and Kenya share  a glass Michael Wraight oversees installation of new water filters giving local Kenyans ten more years of fresh drinking water.

A volunteer from Tweed Shire Council, New South Wales, travelled to western Kenya last month to upgrade Safewater plants built by the Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program (TKMP), now in its 13th year of operation.

The program has built four water purification plants in Siaya, Nyanza province, about ten hours’ drive from the capital of Nairobi, delivering safe water to 6000 people in four rural villages.

Council’s Acting Manager of Water and Wastewater, Michael Wraight, spent two weeks in Kenya overseeing the installation of new microfiltration systems in two of the plants – established by previous Tweed volunteers in 2008 and 2009 – to give the people another ten years of safe drinking water.

“The filters have a really tough but important job to do as people’s health and welfare depend on them,” Mr Wraight said.

“Unfortunately, the quality of the source water from four earth dams is very poor as the dams are also used by cattle and are highly contaminated by silt and manure.

“From an engineering perspective, creating purified water for these communities is essentially the same as what we do at the Bray Park Water Treatment Plant, where we also use membrane microfiltration systems. The difference is the setting.

“In the Tweed we have access to the world’s best technicians, tools and resources whereas in Kenya, where the mentoring program operates, there is no government support and little in the way of tools and resources to maintain the water treatment plants.

Mr Wraight’s visit to Kenya was the eighth by Tweed Shire Council volunteers. While there, he renewed TKMP contacts with local community leaders, politicians and government staff and has brought back stories and images to the Tweed community to help further develop this important mentoring program.