The Samburu Project Well Drilling Initiative

The Samburu Project Well Drilling Initiative

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Samburu Project´s initiative is aimed at providing easy access to clean, safe drinking water to communities in the Samburu District, Kenya. With water, it becomes possible to impact other aspects of community life including education, healthcare, income generation and women´s empowerment. With water, development happens.

About You
The Samburu Project
Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name



, CA

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


Organization Name

The Samburu Project

Organization Phone

+1 310 881 7265

Organization Address

1801 Lincoln Blvd. #212 Venice, CA 90291

Organization Country

, CA

How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, RV

What makes your idea unique?

The Samburu Project takes a unique approach to women's empowerment and community development but looking holistically at the lives of the Samburu people. Before women and girls are able to educate themselves and build a life beyond the domestic, they must have time. The Samburu Project acknowledges that women's empowerment and community is multifaceted and that for the Samburu people, the first step to development is clean water.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

The Samburu Project works directly with the people of Samburu, addressing their needs as they have identified them. With our Project Manager, a local tribesman and community leader, we cultivate locally led leadership, maximizing our ability to make the best decisions for this indigenous community. In March, The Samburu Project will complete our 1st 25 Wells initiative and break ground on our 2nd 25 Wells initiative, with a total of 29 wells constructed and fully operational. In conjunction with well drilling, they have held extensive training and workshops within these 28 communities educating members on proper hygiene and sanitation. At the present time, our project has given 20,000 people access to clean, safe drinking water, representing approximately 25% of the population of Samburu East. Furthermore, as a result of their access to water, women have fewer health problems and have begun nourishing themselves and generating income through agricultural endeavors. The number of women engaging in farming and micro enterprise initiatives has grown from 54 to 793 since Samburu Project wells became operational. In addition, instead of solely hunting for water everyday, children can now attend school and become educated assets to their communities. Since the establishment of wells in Samburu East, the number of girls attending school has increased from 1,275 to 3,841.

The social impact of the Samburu project is not limited to Kenya. The Samburu Project’s work in Africa offers a wonderful platform to teach water conservation in the United States. Through educational initiatives and fundraising, Kristen Kosinski has spoken to thousands of people in the US about water issues and the necessity to conserve this precious resource. She has met with thousands of students from elementary school through graduate programs in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Gulfstream, Florida. Her work with the Samburu allows her to share stories of water from the perspective of people who have lived their lives in lack. Through the eyes of the Samburu people, communities in the US have the opportunity to see what life may be like without clean water, which inspires them to start conserving.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

Life for Samburu women is extremely difficult. Women and girls lack basic rights. Women are the property of their husbands and rarely given opportunities to own goods or property. In some villages, girls are not permitted to attend school. The Samburu circumcise girls as a right of passage. The Samburu also practice polygamy, so it is not uncommon for a man to have multiple wives. Violence against women is socially acceptable and often encouraged. Samburu women carry out all the daily household burdens, including fetching water and firewood, caring for children, building and maintaining homes, tending to livestock, and cooking.

The direst issue in Samburu is not HIV/AIDS, malaria, poverty or genital mutilation, however. It’s lack of clean water and facilities for proper sanitation. Currently, most Samburu women walk up to 20km each day in search of water and the water they find is often unclean, originating from gaping, hand-dug wells contaminated by wildlife and livestock. Drinking contaminated water can cause diarrhea, one of the leading causes of death in Samburu. Carrying heavy water containers far distances has been linked to other health issues, including severe back problems and a high incident of miscarriage.

Spending the majority of their day searching for water leaves Samburu women with no time to develop income-generating businesses, care for their children, become more informed about their human rights, or send their children to school. Commonly, Samburu girls do not attend school because they are expected to join their mothers in this quest for water.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. What might prevent that success?

The Samburu Project works in conjunction with local communities during every step of the process, ensuring the sustainability and success of our projects. With our Project Manager, Lucas Lekwale, a local tribesman and community leader (see Project Manager bio below), we cultivate locally led leadership, maximizing our ability to make the best decisions for this indigenous community. Communities first apply to The Samburu Project CBO for a well and once their application is accepted, they work alongside Samburu Project’s CBO and hydrogeologist to select a location for their well. Each community, represented by a women’s group, signs a contract agreeing to specific conditions and responsibilities. Promoting female leadership within our well-drilling initiatives, translates to female empowerment in all aspects of society.

The primary hindrance to our success as a NGO is a lack of funding. Due to our status as a relatively new NGO, we are continuously searching for new partnerships and funding sources. Despite the recent economic crisis, we have maintained the efficacy of our project and continued developing partnerships, actually increasing our budget over the past year.

An additional impediment to our success is caused by the geography of the Samburu Region. The Samburu region is extremely remote and isolated. Furthermore, all hydroelectric technology must be brought to the region from Nairobi (approximately ten hours away). When equipment, such as pumps and drills, break down there are extensive delays before repairs can be made. More funding would allow us to purchase spare parts and speed up repairs.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

Remainder of 2010: 8 new wells
Women entering into micro-finance: 267
Girls to begin school: 934

2011: 16 new wells
Women entering into micro-finance: 538
Girls to begin school: 1,867

2012: 20 new wells
Women entering into micro-finance: 672
Girls to begin school: 2,334

Total over the next three years:
Women entering into micro-finance: 1,477
Girls to begin school: 8,976

Our numbers are projected based off of results we have seen over the past five years of the average number of women entering into micro-finance and girls beginning school as our wells have begun to create an impact among the communities of Samburu. In addition to these projected numbers, we plan to continue to reinforce partnerships with other CBOs and NGOs to further this number and increase women's involvement in agriculturally based businesses. For each additional well, 1,000 Samburu people will gain access to clean, safe drinking water.

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?


If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?


What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation

Once clean water is established as a baseline, we work with other CBO partners to impact additional aspects of community life, including education, healthcare, income generation and women’s empowerment. For instance, through our partnership with One Kid One World, Lolkuniyani Primary School in Wamba is being enhanced with new classrooms, more teachers and a water catchment system. And through the Falkenberg Education Program, Samburu Project is helping children prepare to attend secondary school through the purchase of test preparation books, provision of desks, rehabilitation of school facilities and donation of sporting equipment. At the local level, on agricultural income-generating endeavors, we have partnered with the Kenyan Horticultural Group to teach women how to grow and sell produce. In April 2010, we will be drilling a well at SHERP, a handicap children’s home, in Maralal, Samburu, in partnership with the Lee Oneness Foundation servicing 123 children in need. These partnerships allow The Samburu Project to take the opportunities created by access to clean water and put them into action in the community, furthering our mission to empower women and create community development by increasing access to safe drinking water.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

The Samburu Project receives funding from three areas: individual donors, corporations and foundations.

The majority (85%) of our funding comes from individual donors and small family foundations. Throughout the year, we engage donors and cultivate new supporters through various fundraising activities including quarterly mailers, cocktail parties, walks for water and a variety of other events. Additionally, we utilize a number of social networking tools to raise funds from individual donors like Twitter and Facebook. We send out monthly emails to our online database of nearly 3,000 people driving additional fundraising. In 2010, we are launching a national campaign called TRIBE to engage high school students to raise awareness and funds for the world water crisis.

We also have corporate partners including Mighty Fine Inc., FHI Heat and Nelson J Salon. With these partnerships, The Samburu Project receives a percentage of the sales of specific items. We are continuously networking to forge new partnerships to grow this revenue stream as it not only allows us to raise funds, but also creates awareness through sales, marketing and publicity to potentially gain the interest of new individual donors.

In 2009, The Samburu Project commenced a grant writing initiative which will be ongoing, reaching out to foundations for support. This year, we have been awarded funds from foundations such as The Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation, Goldman Sacks Gives and M. Night Shaymalan Foundation.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

In June 2005, The Samburu Project's founder, Kristen Kosinski, traveled to Kenya in pursuit of realizing a lifelong dream; communing with, learning from, and facilitating the empowerment of indigenous living African women. What she found was mutual inspiration. Upon her arrival in Samburu, Kristen stumbled upon a women's village in the District and connected with the village’s founder who worked with women’s groups throughout the Samburu District. Together, they set out on a safari like no other, traveling throughout the district, moving from village to village meeting hundreds of women. During those weeks, the story Ms. Kosinski heard over and over and over again was the fact that Samburu women have no access to clean water and this lack of clean water effects every day and every aspect of their lives. Learning first-hand this daily struggle, Ms. Kosinski was inspired to help to empower these women by working to provide clean, safe drinking water in their communities. With that, she launched The Samburu Project.

Founded in September 2005, The Samburu Project’s focus is to provide easy access to clean, safe drinking water to communities in the Samburu District, Kenya. By providing the foundation of water, their belief is that sustainable development is possible. With water as a baseline, they can impact other aspects of community life including education, healthcare, income generation and women’s empowerment. Currently, most Samburu women spend the majority of each day searching for water and the water they find is often contaminated.

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

As Executive Director, Ms. Kosinski oversees all aspects of The Samburu Project’s operations in the US and Kenya, including administration, program management and evaluation, board development, and fundraising. Committed to cross-cultural awareness and understanding, Ms. Kosinski is a passionate advocate for women and children. She conceived The Samburu Project while traveling through remote parts of Kenya and working with women’s groups from the Samburu Tribe. She secured The Samburu Project’s NGO status in Kenya and recruited, trained and mentored a Samburu community leader (Mr. Lekwale) to serve as program manager. Previously, Ms. Kosinski was an executive at Paramount Network Television. She also taught elementary school in Houston and Los Angeles through Teach for America. She is a founding member of Coalition for Sustainable Africa, serving on their Steering Committee from 2006-2008. She is a 2008 graduate of Women Unlimited’s Lead Program, a leadership program for women in business. Ms. Kosinski received a B.A. in Speech Communication from Pennsylvania State University.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Web Search (e.g., Google or Yahoo)

If through another source, please provide the information
Does your project address any of the following barriers to women’s technology access and use?

Women’s time poverty, Social norms, Economic or institutional constraints.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how.

Spending the majority of their day searching for water leaves Samburu women with no time to develop income-generating businesses, care for their children, become more informed about their human rights, or send their children to school. Commonly, Samburu girls do not attend school because they are expected to join their mothers in this quest for water. By addressing this need, the women of Samburu have obtained the necessary time to step out of their solely domestic roles and into income generating businesses of their own. For example, after drilling our well in Milimani, the women of Milimani were able to create the Milimani Women's Group which now functions as an agricultural co-op, bead production facility as well as means for the women to participate in community-based micro-finance programs that include no interest loans.

Does your project involve women in one or more of the following stages of the technology lifecycle? Identification of the problem the technology will solve:

Technology introduction, Technology training, Creation and maintenance of market linkages for women's economic outputs, Assessment and evaluation.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how you will ensure women’s involvement in each relevant phase of the technology lifecycle.

As the technology for each well is implemented, the women of Samburu are an integral part of the process. Roughly 90% of our Board of Directors for our CBO on the ground in Samburu is women. This exposes women to all aspects of the technological process of implementing wells in the region, from introduction to eventual assessment and evaluation of each well. Furthermore, as wells are constructed and women's time is freed, they become key figures in the implementation and maintenance of an array of revenue building women's businesses, such as the Milimani Women's Group.

If women are a focus of your project, how did this focus evolve?

The project focused on women from its conception..

Which type of women will your project reach directly?

Rural, Low income.

In what ways does your project team/leadership involve women?

It is led by a woman/women., It is led by a woman/women from a developing country., The core project team includes women..

Has your organization formed any new partnerships in response to this challenge? If so, with what type/s of organization/s?

Non-profit/NGO/community-based organization, Women's organization.

Has your project leadership had prior experience with the following?

Working with women, Working with technologies, Working to increase women's economic empowerment through technology, Working on innovation.