Tweed River, Australia and Nairobi River, Kenya
The Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program (TKMP) was initiated and formally adopted by the Tweed Shire Council (TSC) in 2004. This twinning project is unique in that the TSC have never been a Riverprize winner, though they have been selected as a finalist in multiple years, most recently in 2013. Originating from a chance meeting between Olita Ogonjo from Kenya and Mike Rayner, Council’s then Director of Engineering, the project has evolved over the last eight years but remains committed to water, the environment and a strong friendship between the two participating communities.
TKMP initially focused on working with youth groups in Nairobi on environment issues, using sport as a tool to engage and inform young people about river rehabilitation. Additionally, the program worked in the rural district of Siaya in Kenya’s west to install small water purification facilities. Work in the past has also focussed on sanitation and community health. Today, TKMP’s work concentrates on the provision of clean water.
In 2012, Nigel Dobson from TSC led the “Safe Water 4” project and the successful rehabilitation of Gona Dam which is now a permanent source of water for 6000 people. Prior to works, Gona Dam contained so much silt that it would dry up regularly, forcing local women and children to walk up to 6 kilometers per day in search of water.
Following the commissioning of a fourth water purification system in 2014, TKMP’s focus will shift to the maintenance and sustainability of existing facilities.
The Safe Water projects are enabled by a variety of funding sources, including private philanthropy, businesses, community groups, donations by the SkyJuice Foundation and a partnership with the Kenya Health Organisation. Donations from TSC staff members are matched by the Council, and thousands of hours of volunteer time has also been contributed to projects.
Upcoming activities will focus on maintenance and augmentation of existing facilities with the longer term aim of the communities being empowered to manage and fund the facilities.