Olita Ogonjo

Olita Ogonjo

Olita Ogonjo, Kenya

Tom  Alletson is the Waterways Program Leader at Tweed Shire Council.  He has a Bachelors Degree in Coastal Management and Masters of Integrated Water Management.  Tom has worked in catchment management for 20 years in the community, private and public sectors, with experience in Australia, Africa and the UK.  For the last 15 years Tom has been responsible for a broad program of works relating to the conservation and use of the Tweed River, with a strong focus on riparian rehabilitation.  Tom was part of the team that formed the Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program in 2007, and travelled to rural Kenya in 2008 to set up a small drinking water purification facility.

Presentation Title: Still Twinning – The Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program

The Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program has its origin in Tokyo in 2003, when at the World Water Forum, Tweed Shire Council Director of Engineering, Mike Rayner, presented a poster on the  2003 National Riverprize Finalist, the Tweed River.  Beside Mike stands Olita Ogonjo, a social worker from Kibera, an informal settlement on the outskirts of Nairobi.  Olita’s poster presents the efforts and innovations of a community struggling to meet it’s most basic needs in clean water and safe sanitation.  The two men strike up a conversation, and then a friendship, which leads to the development of a relationship between two communities on opposite side of the world. With strong support from the International Riverfoundation through it’s twinning program, the relationship continues and supports the provision of clean drinking water for 1000’s of people in the Siaya district or rural western Kenya.

In 2007 the Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program delivered its first ‘Safewater’ project, a small water filtration facility which utilises a Skyjuice Foundation membrane filtration system.  This was installed by a volunteer from the Tweed who travelled to Kenya to set up the facility and continue the relationship building component of the program.  As of March 2017, a total of seven projects have  been delivered by Tweed volunteers working alongside local people, and a strong and effective program model has been established with local communities and government representatives.  In Kenya, the program focuses on sustainable operation and maintenance of water treatment facilities, cost recovery, community training and engagement, transparent record keeping and relationship building with local government institutions. In the Tweed Community, the benefits of the Twinning Program include strong and unique opportunities for staff development and a keen awareness of global issues surrounding water security and the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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