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How to Make Clean, Safe Water Last: Poul Due Jensen Foundation and Water Mission Partner for Long-Term Change in Kenya

Water Mission’s values of love, excellence, and integrity are made evident in the two main aspects of what we do: engineering and community empowerment. We believe that these two aspects work in tandem.

Together, they build safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) solutions that produce long-term change — the kind of change that we aim for in our continued partnership with the Poul Due Jensen Foundation (PDJF).

The Water Mission Kenya team greets a community member at a commissioning celebration in Segera

Through the Kenya 23 Next Level initiative, Water Mission and PDJF will quality assess, repair, and expand existing safe water systems where necessary. Some of these systems will have their distribution enhanced with more access points and new tap stands, thus serving more people in less time. Several new communities will have water systems installed for the first time. We will also incorporate remote monitoring technology that will allow us to measure water production, quality, groundwater level, and pressure, ensuring the sustainability and reliability of our solutions. The initiative’s aim is to serve 55,000 people across several communities.

“Water Mission understands that… community education — 400 to 600 hours — is necessary to address issues that range from effective handwashing to cultural [biases], and [that water] should be affordable and not prevent users from meeting basic human needs.”
Clemson World article on Water Mission

Project engineer Nick Mason, PE, has committed to living in Kenya for the next two years to support Kenya 23 Next Level. His team’s aim is to build the technical, social, and financial resilience necessary to sustain solutions across several Kenyan communities, revisiting and expanding upon a previous Water Mission-PDJF collaboration from 2014.

Community members in St. Caroli Lwanga read through WASH materials

Nick will be in Kenya to work on quality control and assurance of our safe water systems. He will be performing on-site inspections to ensure standards, translating best-in-class design to best-in-class construction. Prior to this Kenya assignment, he has worked in our Haiti office, supported our UNICEF hospital projects in Liberia, assisted in disaster response for Hurricanes Matthew and Maria, and assessed the needs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

When asked about his upcoming assignment in Kenya, Nick said that he was looking forward “to seeing projects from beginning to end and assisting international staff.”

Water Mission and Poul Due Jensen Foundation implement a safe water solution in Segera

Building sustainable solutions means investing in the future of a community rather than simply addressing immediate needs. To put our engineering expertise and our heart for community empowerment into practice, we often rely on partnerships for our work. Our conversation with Nils Thorup, Program Manager for Water at PDJF, is a testament to the importance of best-in-class practices and trusted partnerships:

Water Mission: PDJF and Water Mission have partnered on numerous safe water projects. From your perspective, where has this partnership had the biggest impact?

Nils Thorup: The beauty of our trusted partnership is that we know each other very well and that we are very much aligned in values and work ethics. When we join forces, we can change lives for the better, but none of us could do it without the other.

WM: Safe water for rural communities is one of PDJF’s main areas of focus. Can you explain why you have chosen to focus on rural communities?

NT: We are the owners of a large pump manufacturer and if there is a positive business case in an area, we believe there should be a professional operator delivering safe water on commercial terms. As a foundation with a philanthropic purpose, we direct our funds towards communities where such businesses would not normally operate.

A Water Mission tap stand at a commissioning celebration

WM: Looking ahead, Kenya 23 Next Level will focus on strengthening existing safe water projects, addressing long-term sustainability, and providing safe water access to approximately 55,000 people. What outcomes are you watching most closely?

NT: In Kenya, we want to pursue evidence that our water projects can become financially sustainable over time. But we are also hoping that our remote monitoring can bring much-needed facts to the table in the discussion on the long-term environmental effects of groundwater pumping.

WM: Encouraging advocacy and raising awareness are important components of Kenya 23 Next Level. Can you share the importance of equipping communities not just with safe water but also empowering them through financial sustainability?

NT: Access to safe water brings development, health, and improved economic opportunities to rural communities. It is our hope that our contribution creates a ripple effect that is felt for many years to come.

And that, as an organization, is our hope: to create ripple effects that are felt and seen for many years — decades — to come.

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