How can a family earn income when most of their time is spent meeting the most essential of needs? How can an entire village or town develop if all its inhabitants face this same problem? As with other things, water does not grow on proverbial trees, but neither does it run through municipal pipelines in much of the East African nation of Kenya.

Consequently, families are at the mercy of rainfall and river water to ensure the ability to drink, cook, bathe, and wash clothing. Unlike much of the West, rainfall in Kenya usually occurs only during a certain few months out of the year. The later in the dry season it is, the harder it becomes to find a water source.

On one of my latest assignments with ChildFund, I documented the lengths to which people go to find water in Kenya’s Migwani District, just four hours north-west of the capital Nairobi. Here, residents late in the dry season have resorted to digging ephemeral wells in a dry riverbed, sometimes 50 or 60 feet below the ground.

But documenting the needs was just part of the assignment. The point was to show the contrast between a community where ChildFund is working, and a community that is still yet to be reached. In a separate nearby village, Ikasi, the organization worked on a massive infrastructure project to dam a river and channel water to various collection points.

Families now have a nearby water source, one that does not require them to dig for hours or lower long ropes into 60 foot-deep pits. It’s almost as simple as turning on the tap. Below, villagers queue to fill jerry cans at a kiosk fed by the Ikasi Earth Dam.

Families are making great use of the extra time the new water source affords. Below, Kiangi and her father, Mr. Javeth Mwinzi, water their garden in Migwani, Kenya. The Ikasi Earth Dam allows residents to grow an abundance of vegetables in an arid environment. “We used to have to travel so far to get water, but now it’s close by. We can now grow vegetables, and our family has a balanced diet. The extra income we earn from gardening we use to help with the children’s education, clothing, and food,” says Mr. Mwinzi.

Of course, not everyone lives near a river. ChildFund has also installed a number of pump-wells in the area for those that live far away from the dam. Below, Baraka draws clean water from a ChildFund-installed well in Migwani, Kenya.

While thousands of people in Kenya’s Migwani district have been impacted by ChildFund’s water programs, unfortunately, many more are in need of water access through Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa at large. As the holiday season approaches, you may wish to help a community gain access to clean water for the first time. Giving though ChildFund’s online gift catalog is a wonderful way to bring essential needs to those who are lacking the things we take for a granted every day.