About the program

TKMP collecting water

The Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program (TKMP) is a unique relationship that has grown between the Tweed community and a number of poor rural villages in the Siaya district of Western Kenya.

The program vision connects water and people, recognising the fundamental similarity of our communities need for water, but extreme difference in our ability to access and manage it. 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
  • strengthening bonds of friendship with the Tweed community.

The TKMP Operational Plan(PDF, 748KB) was adopted by Council with unanimous support for the program and ongoing support for at least the next 3 years (2022-2025).

Siaya sits almost on the equator and is located approximately 10 hours travel west of Kenya's capital city, Nairobi. 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 4 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". 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.

Rural Siaya is one of poorest areas in Kenya and suffers some of the country's worst human health and welfare indicators, including high infant mortality and very limited water and sanitation service levels. Due to climate and geology, surface water is very scare in the district, and ground water is restricted to deep brackish aquifers.

TKMP uses the Tweed’s human, technical and financial resources to support projects focusing on water, sanitation, hygiene, environmental education and youth development. The program is underpinned by a strong bond of friendship between individuals from the Tweed and Kenya, who have met and learnt from each other over the life of the program. Ongoing facilitation of visits between the 2 countries is a key objective of the program.

The program retains the services of committed Kenyan staff, and operates within 3 villages where volunteer Tweed Shire Council staff members have installed water purification equipment at local dams. Kenyan staff work with local villages to operate and maintain these 'Safewater stations' and visit local schools to raise awareness of environmental issues and organise youth development activities based around sport.

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