Skip to main content

Bringing water to parched lands


In 2020, the Initiatives for Land, Lives, and Peace (ILLP) programme helped to create Water Warriors, a collaboration between experts and activists in India, Sweden, and Kenya to share water management solutions across the globe.

Two locations, one goal

In India, Dr. Rajendra Singh and the Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) organization have worked for decades to restore the watersheds of Rajasthan. Known as ‘the waterman of India,’ Dr. Singh has helped bring water to thousands of villages by building river dams to conserve rainwater. His strategies and projects have helped to restore vegetation, increased rainfall, and helped to recharge groundwater in the region. His success in this more arid part of India suggested that this strategy could work in regions with similar climates.

Habaswein, in northeastern Kenya, is arid, with little water for anything to grow and a population dependent on the land. Mukhtar Ogle, a secretary of strategic initiatives and advisor to the President of Kenya, comes from this area. In February 2020, Mr. Ogle gave a keynote on environment and security at Asia Plateau, the Initiatives of Change (IofC) conference center in India. He also visited Grampari, a rural development NGO inspired by IofC, pioneering work in watershed management, and heard more about Dr. Singh. ‘Bring this to Kenya,’ said Ogle, ‘and we will transform the region.’

Collaborating in a pandemic

Rishabh Khanna, Sunita Raut, and Hassan Mohamud were ready to deliver Dr. Singh’s methodology to northeastern Kenya. But as COVID-19 spread, the chances of engaging with a remote town in northeast Kenya seemed slim. So instead, Sunita and Rishabh delivered a series of virtual workshops on Zoom for the local communities.

After several months, they got an opportunity to visit Habaswein. The visit itself was just in time, as it happened just before the outbreak of the Omicron variant. Dr. Mukhtar Ogle, currenty climate and security advisor to the Kenyan President hosted Hassan Mohamud, Rishabh Khanna, and Dr. Rajinder Singh. The journey from Nairobi to Wajir and then Habaswein was an eye-opener for the ILLP team. They were astonished by the severe drought faced by the people in the region.

Water and climate crisis

Climate emergency has taken its toll on the people of Wajir, where more than 2.3 million  people suffer from the lack of water. The drought has also impacted millions of animals, which include livestock and wildlife. Most people in the region are paying more than 38 USD a month, which is less than what they earn.

Amidst all this despair, our focus is to use the same strategy that worked in India - conserve rainwater through building river dams in the region, starting in Habaswein. These river dams will create livelihoods for the people, save water and prevent soil erosion, and prevent floods in the area. We would be using tried and tested methods of harvesting water from Tarun Bharat Sangh under the leadership of Dr. Rajendra Singh. Our intervention, which will incorporate indigenous knowledge and understanding, will truly restore land, lives, and peace and create a model for scaling climate change adaptation and mitigation in the region of the Horn of Africa.

Changing lives with water

Over a period of three years, IILP aims to create a community-led decentralized watershed management movement. To start this, ILLP asks for your support to help build the first structure before the rains in April. Usually, such a structure would cost 150,000 euros to build.

However, with volunteer efforts and community support, we can build a 3-meter deep and 100 meters wide structure to hold 500,000 m3 of water. This structure would use local materials, as the sand has lime content, and the soil has clay which makes an ideal material to hold the water.

This structure can change the lives of 20,000 people in Habaswein, and we have already raised 3000 USD for this fantastic project. We are confident that institutions like African Development Bank, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), and others will help us scale the efforts once this structure is built.

How you can help

Contributing 10 euros or 100 SEK enables the harvesting 100,000 liters of water per year. You receive a donation certificate.

Contributing 100 euros or 1000 SEK enables the harvesting of 1 million liters of water per year. Your name will be added on the river embankment.

Contributing 1000 Euros or 10,000 SEK enables the harvesting of 10 million liters of water per year! This special level of support means that your name will be on the board and you will be invited to the opening ceremony.

After selecting your preferred currency on the donate page, please select 'Program/team/country specific' from the PayPal dropdown menu. In the 'add a note' field, prior to submitting your donation, please add 'Water Warriors'.