Clean Water to KenyaIt all began with a friend and a teammate. In 2008, while running for the University of West Florida, Chris Hough noticed one of his teammates wore a small beaded bracelet customized with the Kenyan national flag. The bracelet sparked Hough’s interest, and that teammate promised to bring Hough a bracelet when he next returned to Kenya. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Flash forward to 2015. Hough, who worked at Nike, was out on a run when he crossed paths with Paul Chelimo and Shadrack Kipchirchir, two notable faces among Nike runners. Both are members of the military’s World Class Athlete Program and went on to compete in the 2016 Olympics, where Chelimo earned a silver medal in the 5,000 and Kipchirchir finished 19th in the 10,000. On that day, both men were wearing beaded bracelets with the Kenyan flag, the same one that Hough’s teammate wore eight years prior. Hough stopped them, inquiring about the bracelets and eventually striking up a valuable friendship. From that friendship, ArtiKen was born. Now, ArtiKen connects passion with passion, tieing the running community with philanthropic change.

ArtiKen’s Impact on the Ground

Thanks to the notoriety of Chelimo and Kipchirchir, ArtiKen bracelets quickly became popular amongst runners of all ages and skill sets. Olympians, elite athletes and high schoolers alike wear ArtiKen bracelets. However, ArtiKen is more than just a popular brand in the world of running. It is also a company driving positive change by bringing clean water to Kenya.

Currently, 41 percent of Kenyans still rely on unimproved water sources, which are ponds, shallow wells or rivers. Accordingly, 19 million people lack access to clean water, and 27 million people lack access to improved sanitation. Only 9 of the 55 water suppliers in Kenya have the ability to supply clean water on a regular basis. In short, many Kenyans still struggle to find clean water on a regular basis, especially those in rural areas or urban slums.

ArtiKen is striving to help solve the water crisis by bringing clean water to Kenya. The company donates 10 percent of every purchase to clean water initiatives throughout Kenya. The idea was to give back to those who in Kenyan communities because, without them, the company would have never existed. ArtiKen also employs members of the Massai tribe, helping these artists earn a steady income and provide for their families.

ArtiKen Connects Multiple Passions for One Cause

On Medium, Hough writes, “…giving those athletes the opportunity to show support and love through our jewelry is exciting, but more importantly, the ability to provide clean water to those in need is the foundation to our company’s mission— to help eradicate poverty and provide clean water in Kenya one day at a time.”

ArtiKen allows for runners to change the world through a single purchase. The company strives to create a positive impact on both local Kenyan and running communities. Through their simple, yet elegant bracelets, ArtiKen connects passion with passion, by bringing distant communities closer to one another to celebrate both art and athletics and by bringing clean water to Kenya.

– Andrew Edwards
Photo: Google Images

Water and sanitation. Proper access to both is an issue that bedevils developing countries all over the world, and Kenya is no different. A new water-dispensing service is trying to change that.

Water has always been a huge issue in development work. Its importance is paramount to life itself – without water, humans cannot survive. While millions of people in the developing world do have access to water, often times it is not safe for drinking. This causes diseases to spread and death to follow.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set out targets for clean drinking water. Goal 7, Target 7.C’s aim was to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” This goal was met five years ahead of schedule – between 1990 and 2012, 2.3 billion more people gained access to safe drinking water. However, some have claimed that Target 7.C set the bar too low in terms of achievement.

A major issue connected to clean drinking water is access to proper sanitation for all. While the clean drinking water MDG has been met, sanitation has not done as well. One billion people still openly defecate all around the world, for lack of a better option. This then affects drinking water – it is a vicious cycle.

Part of the problem with supplying clean drinking water to the world’s population is that it is growing, making the task even harder. The population of Nairobi in 1963 was 300,000. Now, it is home to 4.2 million, and this figure is expected to grow to 14 million by 2050. If the world cannot supply its current population with clean drinking water, then how will it possibly keep up with the globe’s rapidly expanding populace?

The answer might begin with four new water dispensers that have been installed in Nairobi’s slums, which might help to change Kenya’s water infrastructure. They operate like vending machines – put money in, and water is dispensed out. This has reduced both the cost of water for slum residents as well as the distance needed to travel to acquire it. The water is purer and cleaner than other options – before the machines were installed, many residents got their water from sellers that dragged jerry cans on carts through the streets. Without water pipes in the slums, this was the only option.

The water-dispensing machines present a cheaper and cleaner option than the street vendors. It is a win-win situation for all involved – the government, who has put the machines in place, makes money on the water, and the citizens pay cheaper prices. Before, people would venture to neighborhoods with water pipes and break them to siphon off water, essentially stealing water from the government.

Now, prices are six times cheaper than they were before. Pre-dispensing machine, water prices hovered around three shillings, the equivalent of around three pennies in the U.S. Now, prices have been reduced to half a shilling. This might not seem like much, but to some that are unemployed or only make US$2 a day, the reduction is huge.

The payment system is done through mobile payments or water smart cards that residents can load money on. The machines are also operated by local residents who earn up to 40 percent of the profits from the machines as an incentive to keep them running and prevent vandalism. If Nairobi can continue to set an example for what these machines can do, they might go much further than a few slums in Kenya’s capitol.

– Gregory Baker

Sources: The Guardian, All Africa, UN
Photo: Stratfor