Ch. 34: Finally a system for water that works

In the arid north of Kenya water means life.

There is no explicit ownership of land and water for the Samburu. In theory any stockowner has a right to live with whom he pleases where he pleases. Certain areas are associated with certain clans but anyone is free to migrate to these places. This is our land, they say, it belongs to us all.

The Waso River has been the main source of water into northern Kenya for hundreds of years.  Changing weather patterns, development and irrigation up stream now means that this is no longer a river – more of a seasonal river, which dries during drought years and floods during the rainy season.

Our aim is to provide clusters of water – building a sustainable network of reservoirs throughout the region.

Colin Francombe’s innovative design has been tried and tested, broken and tested over again and what we now have is a blueprint to create a network of sustainable water for the survival of people, livestock and wildlife for future generations.


Reservoir Types



– built in areas most beneficial to wildlife, on migratory routes or where there is human wildlife conflict.  During drought these wildlife reservoirs can be used for people and livestock.


– built for the community and their livestock as well as wildlife.

Water Project History


1. Ndovu Wildlife Reservoir – Built in 2006, holds approx. 10000 cubic metres

Built for Elephant in a beautiful valley. Our first reservoir built exclusively for wildlife.

2. Matasia Community Reservoir – Built in 2007, holds approx. 5000 cubic metres

This reservoir has fantastic catchment and fills on 1 or 2 small storms on the plains. It has given the Sugumai community water for up to 6 months when being fully used by their livestock.  This water is a favorite for a pck of wild dog, and there is a naughty bull elephant which uses an ant mound to climb over the wall.

3. Shule Community Reservoir – Built in 2007, holds approx. 2000 cubic metres

Surprisingly this little waterhole by the school at Ol Malo collects water from the ditch on the side of the road and is swamped with brightly coloured Samburu children and Zebra.

4. Black Cotton Wildlife Reservoir – Built in 2008, holds approx. 2000 cubic metres

The sticky black clay is perfect for this small waterhole providing the only water on the plains for all wildlife. Frequented by lion and Grevy Zebra favorite.

5. Lalera Community Reservoir – Built in 2009, holds approx. 5000 cubic metres

This area is well known for its singing well where a moran dropped a spear in and made it unusable. In a shady valley where the rocks are petrol grey and look wet in the sunlight.  Full of yellow fever trees this reservoir will be a favorite for the bees.

6. Hippo Wildlife Reservoir – Built in 2010, holds approx. 20000 cubic metres

Has become a favourite wallowing spot for herds of elephant and a lone hippo who’s been known to every now and then to walk the long distance from the river, bringing various female companions with him.

7. Maiti Wildlife Reservoir – Built in 2011, holds approx. 2000 cubic metres

Named after an old bull elephant who died  in this valley. Because of the nature of the valley a mud trap was built above, preventing the water from becoming full of silt and providing warthog with a favorite mud bath spot.

8. Pinguan Community Reservoir – Built in 2012, holds approx. 4000 cubic metres

There is nothing more beautiful than early morning on the plains with the morans. This reservoir provides water on the plains, preventing thousands of hooves trampling the fragile ecosystem as they traipse into the valley.
If you wish to help
Please get in touch with us at info@samburutrust.org or make contact with Sam (US) or Alun (UK)

also check out our donate page to donate online.

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