Monday, 20 June 2011

Midomo units to reach Mwingi, Kenya - this week!

I write this cautiously, from a pleasingly well tech-ed up Methodist education centre just outside of Nairobi.

Cautiously, not just because of the number of keywords this network will flag as inappropriate (I’ll be watching my language for once!), but because after three years of development and, more recently, what amounts to months of frustrating delays* we’re about to introduce the first batch of Midomo to a community in Mwingi.

If you were one of our Midomo Bracelet customers prior to the end of March, then it’s your units the community will be receiving this week! Read on with pride! If you’ve yet to discover our collaboration with jewellery designer Alex Monroe .. we’re really proud of it; check it out.

Mwingi is an Eastern province of Kenya about 3 hours drive North East of Nairobi with a population of 304k, 79% of which do not have access to safe drinking water.

The main source of drinking water (accounting for about 69% of users) is surface water and you’ll easily see from this photo we took last week why it isn’t considered to be safe. In addition, with 66% of the households reporting that they did not treat their water before consuming it, irrespective of the warning signs, it isn’t surprising that at any given time around 1 in 8 of the population is suffering from a water related illness.

Midomo is ideal for this community; not just because it’ll take the water from the dam and make it safe to drink but because, like many similar communities, water is collected from many kilometers away from the home. In Mwingi a majority of households (65%) take more than an hour fetching water, with the average time estimated as 1 hour 44 minutes.

You can imagine carrying 20 or 30 litres of water this far in the African heat and humidity is hard work, and we saw in Mwingi many of the innovative ways the women used to make this task easier - including using wheelbarrows to carry the full jerry cans! With existing habits like that we already know that Midomo will fit in well here, so we’re thrilled that Farm Africa got in touch and have been so supportive and informative in our visits. Part of Red Button Design’s ‘Design Against Dependency’ philosophy is not to introduce anything unnecessary into the community, be that materials, products or skills, and Farm Africa have been invaluable making sure that everyone possible, from our translators to steel fabricators, were members of the local community.

I’d say we’re excited, and to a degree we are of course, but as many of you will appreciate this has been a long time coming(!!) and with every new setback, be it an hour, a day, or a week, the tension mounts.

Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, we’re taking with us a film crew for some BBC 2 business show we just can’t keep away from ;)

So I’ll leave you on a cliffhanger..
Pending any more delays, they should be on site by next week! Stay tuned!

*(everything from the Mombasa Port Authority’s computer system ‘going down’ for 10 days, to stocked trucks getting locked in warehouses over the weekend!)

**source: KNBS / Unicef

*** more pictures!