A group in Samburu, Kenya, with BioSand Water Filters they have constructed.

By David Albert, Board Chairman

Friendly Waters for the World

Background: Friend Waters for the World is an organization based at Olympia Friends Meeting in Olympia, WA. Its goal is to promote clean water and sanitation mostly in poorer, rural communities. Its primary activity is to train people to build BioSand Water Filters. The organization is active in twelve countries including Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and eastern Congo. The organization does not make the BioSand Water Filters itself but trains groups of people to produce them and sell them to people in local communities. BioSand Water Filters remove up to 98.5% of bacteria, 100% of worms, 100% of parasite, and 99% of viruses, and harmful heavy metals to produce clean healthy water. The results are the elimination of waterborne illnesses leading to fewer deaths, particularly among children, and a healthy lifestyle for everyone in the family. For more information about Friendly Waters for the World visit their website at https://friendlywater.net/. Dave Z.

Simon Nadungwenkop on right with David Albert.

Please meet our new friend Simon Nadungwenkop (Narok, Kenya), who is currently sojourning with us. Simon is tribal leader of the Ogiek tribe in Kenya, and director of the Ogiek Cultural Initiative Program. He is also East Africa Representative (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) to the United Nations Consultation on Indigenous Peoples.

Members of the Ogiek tribe in traditional dress.

The 30,000 members of the Ogiek tribe are the indigenous forest-dwelling beekeepers of Kenya. They have likely been there for several thousand years. In Kenya, they are considered the lowest of the low on the social totem pole because they do not trade in money, land, or cows, but only in honey. Simon tells me that many members of his organization pay their membership dues in honey. Most of the honey is traded or sold to the Masai community, who use it in many rituals.

Fires in the Mau forest where the Ogiek live. Notice the areas cleared of forests on the back hill. The destruction of forests in the Mau water tower has led to flooding during the rainy season and the drying up of the rivers during the dry season.

The Ogiek people are under grave threat. Land speculators, government functionaries, and members of other tribes have been carving up the Mau forest where the Ogiek live, often claiming ownership of land that they haven’t even seen. Loggers are clearcutting whatever in the way of trees they can get their hands on. They are also setting fire to Ogiek settlements, burning them out of their homes and settlements.

Destruction of an Ogiek house. Notice the clear cutting of trees in the background.

The Ogiek people are attempting to fight back. They are barricading the “roads” (which can hardly be called that) against heavy equipment, and are replanting trees as fast as they can. They would also like to lodge a legal case to at least put a crimp in the cultural genocide that is taking place.

The Ogiek have no schools of their own, and there are neither schools nor teachers who teach in the Ogiek language. As a human and indigenous rights defender, Simon says it is a struggle to get his people to understand, no less defend, the rights they have under both Kenyan and international law.

Friendly Water for the World’s role in all of this is simple. The Ogiek people are seriously weakened by waterborne illnesses. Amebiases and bacterial dysentery are common, typhoid and cholera more than occasional. Child mortality and morbidity remains high. Simon says there are so many deaths of young children from waterborne diseases, people no longer count them. And it is difficult to fight for one’s rights when compromised by sickness.

Friendly Water is talking with Simon about training up to four women’s groups in fabricating BioSand Water Filters, and to teach others about hygiene and community sanitation. This will require a different model than most of our programs, as it is difficult to pay for cement and sand, etc. with honey! (But we are talking about it.)  If you would like to contribute to a future Friendly Water program with the Ogiek, you know the drill! www.friendlywater/net/donate – and on the dedication line, write “Ogiek”. (or send us a check with same.) Imukoksei en toreret – “Everything is Possible!” in Ogiek.


Additional comment by Dave Z: The situation of the remnants of hunter/gathering groups as presented in this report by the Ogiek is recurrent in Africa.. These include the Ndorobo of Mt. Elgon, the Twa of Rwanda, Burundi, and the eastern Congo, the Mbuti (pygmies) of the Ituri forest in the Congo, the San (Bushmen) of southern Africa, and many other groups. They all deal with the destruction of their original habitat, vast discrimination by the dominate groups and their governments, declining population due to inadequate living conditions, and attempts to survive as a people and culture without being assimilated into the surrounding groups.


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Please contribute to Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC). Donations can be sent directly to Kenya through WorldRemit for a charge of one US cent. See http://davidzarembka.com/2016/12/11/world-remit-details/ for details. Alternatively checks may be sent to “David Zarembka” with memo of “TCSC” and mailed to David Zarembka, 8 Midsummer Ct, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. You may now donate to TCSC through PayPal by clicking this link:


If you need to make a tax-deductible donation, send a check to “Friends United Meeting” with memo notation of “FCPT.” Mail this to Friends United Meeting, 101 Quaker Hill Drive, Richmond, IN 47374. Donations can also be made online at fum.org. This donation will pay for the salaries of the staff of Friends Church Peace Team/Transforming Communities for Social Change. Note that 10% of donations under $2500 are deducted to help cover FUM’s administrative costs in handling these funds.


From 1998 to 2016, David Zarembka was the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He continues his peacemaking work in East Africa with Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) and Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT). He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. David is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region.


David Zarembka

Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC)

P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya
Phone in Kenya: 254 (0)726 590 783, in US: 301/765-4098
Reports from Kenya: www.davidzarembka.com/

Email: davidzarembka@gmail.com