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Published: September 5th 2011
Jenn flew to Kenya for a week to help Manna Energy Limited with a consulting project to distribute 1 million water filters to families without access to clean drinking water. Inside the Nairobi airport, there was a man waiting at the bottom of the escalator, and Jenn asked, “First time?” He nodded, they linked arms, and on the count of three stepped on. At the top, he burst out laughing with relief. Next, Jenn climbed aboard a small plane to Kisumu, in western Kenya. The runway in Kisumu was pretty rough and the baggage claim consisted of standing next to the plane until the suitcases were unloaded. From there, Jenn rode in a pickup truck for an hour until reaching Kakamega, seeing a beautiful orange sunset along the way.
Manna designed a program for use on smart phones that collected basic data about each filter recipient, GPS coordinates, and photographs to document the distribution. Each filter consisted of a bucket with a hole in the bottom connected to a long hose filled with filtering material. The filter removed any contaminates from the water so users were not drinking dirty water or using firewood to boil the water. By preventing firewood
consumption, this project will be the first of its kind to earn carbon credits. During one month, one million units were distributed to the area surrounding Kakamega.
Throughout the week, Jenn traveled to rural areas outside of Kakamega conducting spot checks to see if homes had received the water filters and if the filters were being used correctly. This was especially interesting because she would go inside residents’ homes, typically circular mud walls with thatched roofing, and get to talk to users with the help of a translator. At the very first site, the distributors were on strike, but Jenn was able to negotiate with them to return to work and later sorted out their grievances with management. Overall, users were grateful to have a free, clean source of drinking water, and Jenn was able to see a part of Kenya inaccessible to most tourists.
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