CJTF-HOA Brings Safe Water to Garissa
Service members with the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) joined Kenyan Ministry of Defense personnel, municipality leaders, and residents of the villages of Shabah and Delolo to celebrate the dedication of two new wells on July 23 and 24, 2008.
This district-wide campaign aimed to bring clean drinking water to the people of Garissa and provide an alternative to retrieving water from Tana River, six miles away. During the well-dedication ceremony, residents spoke of hazardous conditions near the river, which is inhabited by crocodiles.
Lieutenant Colonel Juma, CJTF-HOA said, "The wells in Delolo, and the one in Shabah, will provide safe drinking water for the people and keep them safe from crocodile attacks. The people are grateful to the Ministry of Defense and the United States government for these wells."
More than 300 people attended the events, including several community leaders, the local sheiks and imams, and local media.
In a speech to the villagers of Shabah, U.S. Navy Captain Michael Hastings, CJTF-HOA, remarked on the partnership between Kenya and the United States. "Our job is to prevent conflict," said Hastings. "We do this by working with our partners, and Kenya is both a partner and a friend. We are here to support the Kenyan Ministry of Defense to the extent that we can, and we are both honored and grateful."
According to Army Staff Sergeant Kevin Countermine, CJTF-HOA, most of the 100,000 people who live in Garissa are nomadic pastoralists whose lives depend on their daily treks to get water.
"If we can prevent the loss of life from crocodile attacks along the river by bringing wells to the people, it will go a long way towards changing negative perceptions about Americans in the region." he said. "These wells are helping build trust and relationships."
During the ceremony, village elders and religious leaders thanked the members of CJTF-HOA for all the work they have done in bringing water to the people, and expressed hope that the friendships forged between the United States and Kenya would continue.