John Lange’s Water Projects

Maryknoll Water Projects in Kenya

Maryknoll Water Projects in Kenya by John Lange

We have been stymied on our dam building plans in the Sagana Maganjo Water project. Sorry about that for those who contributed to this project. We were allotted a valley in the Mt. Kenya Forest Reserve by the local government water authorities because people were complaining that our irrigation scheme was draining the Sagana River. Our irrigation project there serves 170 small farms and the Sagana River is fed from the snow on top of Mt. Kenya which is decreasing. For over a year we have been delayed permission by the Ministry of Forests. Our people think that a politician from the Sagana area is the one behind this blockage. I doubt very much that the blockage is because of environmental concerns because our valley has no trees and no homes would be affected by a lake behind the dam. And Kenya is not into environmental issues yet. You should breathe the black smoke pouring from our cars, busses and trucks.

But we have been forging ahead with many other projects. We recently completed a borehole project in Bungoma, 400 miles to the west of Nairobi. This borehole serves a hospital run by The Little Sisters of St. Francis, a nursery school, and their home. Their home is a big one with about 15 rooms because it is the Center for their community in western Kenya. The Sisters delight in their shower which now works after many years of being without water. When I stayed there on December 27th 2006, I struggled to bathe with a bucket of water. I enjoyed that shower, myself, in July 2007.

We finished a borehole project in Langata, a southwest suburb of Nairobi. This borehole supplies water to the home of 15 of our Little Sisters of St. Francis who attend nearby Catholic University of East Africa and Tangaza College. Also helped is an adjacent retreat house for up to 100 guests. On the drawing board for the Sisters is a hostel for 200 girls who will attend the same university and college and they will benefit from this borehole water. Other projects that are finished are the borehole at Kibagare (in 2002) in the outskirts of Nairobi. Seven hundred grade school children (boarding), 400 secondary school girls (also boarding) and about 500 neighbors benefit from this pure water. Also, a borehole project at Komorock (finished in 2004), a village about 30 miles east of where I live provides water for a thousand people and folks from surrounding villages come with their oxcarts and pick up trucks to fill their barrels with water. In 2005 we finished a borehole at Kabati, 120 miles to the north and east of Nairobi. This serves a grade school, technical school, and nursery school and the Sisters convent; altogether about 1000 people. In our huge project in the Mua Hills, about 40 miles East of Nairobi, 4000 people get water in various villages and areas in the Hills. The women are spared a three mile walk to the nearest muddy water hole. The leaders of the project have just paid $2500 for some repairs there with the money they get from selling water at 3 cents per 5 gallon container. All our borehole projects charge for the water in order to defray the expenses of electricity and maintenance.

We put in a new pump complete with pump house and water storage tanks at the Mua Hills Girls High School (boarding), 40 miles east of Nairobi. Three hundred girls there benefit from water from a spring in a gorge about a half mile below their school. I found a technician to repair their old pump that dates back to colonial times as a back up when things go wrong with the new pump. Up on top at the school they had two old huge water storage tanks which I’m told were used as swimming pools in colonial times. These caught rain water from off various roofs of the school buildings. One of these tanks burst during the rains. Rain water is the best water you can get. I replaced the burst tank with seven, 3000-gallon plastic storage tanks.

Since rain water is the best and also the cheapest, we have also built two huge water storage tanks to catch rain water for The Assumption Sisters Girls High School in Tawa (also boarding), 120 miles east and north of Nairobi. One tank holds 27,000 gallons and the other 20,000 gallons. In Mbooni Mission, 100 miles east of Nairobi where there is also a boarding school for 800 girls, we have constructed a 27,000 gallon cement water storage tank to catch rain water. In the nearby priest’s house and nearby convent we put a new pump in their old borehole which was lying dormant for many years. We installed all the necessary electrical switches, circuit breakers, conductors etc. and installed pipes to their respective homes. We drilled a borehole in Wote, also 100 miles east of Nairobi but in a different direction. At Wote The Assumption Sisters of Nairobi plan to build a big boarding high school for girls.

One of our biggest and favorite projects is at The Little Sisters of St Francis Novitiate in Same, Tanzania. It is a favorite because there are no pumps or machines that often break down. We laid a 8 mile pipeline (one and one half inch in diameter) to bring water from a spring high, high up in the mountain that you see in the photo to your left.

They started a boarding high school for girls. Since that line did not satisfy their need for the Novices, the secondary school girls, their irrigation garden and fish pond, we laid another 9 mile pipeline from a creek in another section of the mountain and built a humongous water storage tank at the school. I was hoping that the one line would suffice, but they use a lot of water.

I have not included all of our projects, but I think you get the idea that water is a scarce commodity in most of Africa, at least in the parts that I’m familiar with. I get many requests for help. Enough for my lifetime, I’m sure. Every project is a struggle but I forget the agonizing struggle when people turn on their faucet and get pure water. I know that the alternative is muddy, polluted water from some hole miles away.

Webmaster’s note: Fr. John’s most recent project is to help the people of KASEKU village in Kenya with their borehole (well) project. Kaseku is about 120 miles east of Nairobi in a vey dry area. The people managed to raise $15,000 to drill a well about 700 feet deep, but unfortunately the first drilling did not produce very much water. A second drilling however, was very successful but now the people are stuck with a new bill. John’s estimate for completing the project is $40,000: $15,000 to pay off the debt, $10,000 for a diesel generator, $4,000 for a building to protect the generator from thievery, $4,000 for a submersible pump and electric cables, and $7,000 for an elevated water tank and a pipe line leading to the distribution center. If you can help with any part of this project, please contact Fr. John.

The little fellow on the right is saying: “Can you lend me a hand?” If you can, we’ll continue on here giving a cup of water to the little ones of God’s people. Here is how to do it.

Please make your checks payable to Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers and send to:

Mission Promotion Department
P.O. Box 302
Maryknoll, NY 10545-0302

In a brief letter included with the check, please indicate that you want to designate your gift for the water projects of Fr. John Lange, and give thanks to God for the running water in your house and shower..

If you prefer to contribute online using your credit card, please click below and choose the option indicating for “Fr. John Lange, M.M. ministry needs




Part of the 12 mile pipe line at Sagana Maganjo Ruptured tank at Mua Hills Girls High School 27,000 gallon water tank at Assumption School at Tawa