Water database to help Kenyans manage supply

A British charity has unveiled a new database to help Kenyans in one of the country’s poorest regions manage meager water supplies and avoid disease.

Compiled by Earthwatch scientists and volunteers over three years, the maps show the location, quality, and seasonal variability of springs, rivers, pools, and reservoirs in the east African nation’s remote north-central Samburu District.

“In this semi-arid region where people and wildlife compete for natural resources, the new GIS database has the potential to greatly improve access to clean drinking water,” Nat Spring, a senior official of the environmental group, said February 22.

Earthwatch said it would keep updating the database and is working with local groups to spread its information through communities.

Fights over scarce resources are common among herders who roam Kenya’s desolate north, including Samburu, which lies about 250 kilometers from the capital Nairobi.

The geographic information system maps also will help avoid outbreaks of disease, Earthwatch said, in an area where more than three-quarters of diagnosed illnesses are waterborne. Last year, doctors at Samburu’s Wamba Mission Hospital detected cholera in a water sample collected by the environmental group, preventing a possible epidemic.

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