The Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program (TKMP) is an initiative run voluntarily by Tweed Shire Council staff, and supported by Tweed Shire Council. The program has existed since 2005, and maintains a vision of:Increasing access to safe water and sanitation, improving community and environmental health for Kenyan families, and strengthening bonds of friendship with the Tweed community.
For the past seven years TKMP has been working with poor rural communities in the Siaya district of Nyanza province, western Kenya. This work has resulted in the installation of a number of small scale water purification stations, and included significant attention to water supply, community capacity building and environmental health initiatives.
Siaya is located approximately 10 hours travel west of Kenya's capital city, Nairobi. The district sits almost on the equator, and is the traditional home of the Lu'o people. Subsistence agriculture is the main activity practiced by people living within the area of TKMP operations, and the average family's material wealth is extremely limited compared to Australian standards. Due to poverty and the problems caused by inadequate access to clean water, safe sanitation, health care and education, disease extracts a heavy toll on people, particularly children.
TKMP works with four villages to maintain water purification stations at the dams which form their water supply. These dams are shallow, turbid and heavily contaminated by cattle manure. Women and children are the water carriers, and often walk several kilometres, several times a day to collect water. These purification stations, and the work surrounding their establishment, have been termed, "Safewater Projects" by TKMP. TKMP volunteers have travelled to Kenya to install these treatment plants, and there is a continuing commitment by TKMP, through our local Kenyan staff, to ensuring that the Safewater projects continue operating. A key activity of the program is training local people to operate and maintain the plants.