Category: Tanzania

Drilling wells in Tanzania

February 9, 2017 by Diana Coombs

Bringing clean water to Tanzania is transforming lives!

Where is Empowering Lives drilling wells, and why that area?
Empowering Lives has been drilling water wells in the dry, rural areas of the Mara region of Northern Tanzania for 3 years. Water is very difficult to access in this part of the country. The ground is too rocky and the water too deep for local hand dug wells or small machine drilling, so many existing shallow wells have gone dry in this year’s drought. Most communities rely on existing water sources that are far from their homes. These sources contain bacteria and are parasite-ridden. Households spend up to 25% of each day fetching water.

There are a lot of organizations drilling wells…What makes the ELI well drilling program different?
One of our core values is giving a hand-up, not a hand-out, and so we partner with communities to raise the $7,000 needed to drill a deep well. People in the community are mobilized to work together and unite to contribute towards the cost of the well. Some will sell a chicken, some a goat, and others contribute from the $1-$2 they make per day. In the end, the community will raise about $1,000, which will in part be used to purchase a heavy-duty hand pump for the well. This encourages the community to take ownership and pride in their new water source and is a big step towards future development. Empowering Lives provides for the drilling rig and the drilling team, and covers the remaining cost of the well. Water drilling has opened up doors for ELI to cultivate meaningful relationships with people and families who live in difficult, rural areas

How can I get involved in the fight against the water crisis in Tanzania?
We have a 2017 goal of drilling 20 wells in partnership with communities! Open up another door for the Gospel message by fully sponsoring a well for $6000, or by making a donation of any amount that will be pooled together with others towards a water well. Learn more about drilling wells in Tanzania.

Watch this brief video to see what collecting water is like without a well, and to see the well drilling process in action:


Manual Borehole Drilling

December 8, 2015 by Diana Coombs

Text, photo and video by ELI Staff Andrew Belko

Early November, three of us from the ELI Tanzania team traveled to Salima, Malawi to attend a two-week training facilitated by the organization Water4 for professionalizing manual borehole drilling in Africa and building capacity for small drilling enterprises throughout the continent. However, it ended up being three weeks, since it took three days by bus to get there and three days to return. But it was definitely worth it. We were accompanied by drilling enterprises from Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and a trainer from the USA. It was a wonderful experience with wonderful people.

I tried to capture what we learned in this video so we don’t forget it. Hopefully, you’ll learn something as well. During the training we drilled two boreholes. The borehole in this video was located just in front of a local Baptist church, and the other was in a nearby village. We are very excited to begin implementing what we learned. We are fabricating some tools that should help us dig deeper on our test hole we are digging at our home in Karemela, Tanzania. I have high hopes for this technology because I see that it can reach and spread to places machine drilling rigs would never reach. Also, it is much cheaper than machine drilling, which is obviously quite helpful when working in poor areas.

The music from the video is from our praise and worship after the hard work days. It is in the Malawian language called Chichewa. So while you may not understand the words, don’t worry, God understands all languages.

The Impact of Clean Water

May 18, 2015 by Diana Coombs

By Boaz Masanja, Project Manager and Yakobo Sembo, ELI Tanzania Director

Mwasamba B

The need for water in Mwasamba B increased when the area was seriously hit by drought. Animals were getting thinner, and plants would wilt. People would go without washing due to water scarcity, and they suffered terribly from lack of proper hygiene in many homes around the area. In some places, there were incidences of scabies because of the lack of washing water, and people would get lice due to dirtiness of not washing clothes.

Drastic measures were needed to overcome the degree of drought in the area by trying to get help from any corner.

The community of Mwasamba B

Initially, the community was excited and had high expectations of getting water at deep depth. They expected that when we hit water, it would come out in large quantity and shoot high out of the hole. When this did not happen, we saw the response and attitude of the community coming down. Even when we found good signs of water at 80 feet, the community wanted us to drill deeper. These kind of queries made us to be humble in replying and to ask them to be tolerant until the last process was over to obtain water.

The community invested a lot in this project and deserve much credit for the completion of the borehole. They contributed 2,900,000 TSH (about $1,455) and manpower such as bringing stones, sand, aggregates, molam (hard-packed clay), water and labor to build the base for the hand pump. The great need of water at Mwasamba B made the entire community to make a lot of sacrifices. A single person could volunteer to sell some chickens, goats, sheep and cows to ensure that one is getting what the community had agreed to contribute so as to make water available in that particular community.


Meeting challenges

While on the way to the drill site, we got stuck several times on the way. The first time we got stuck was on a bridge, where part of the bridge was washed away by the heavy rain. Also, other roads were not easily passable to a similar extent.

We sometimes were obliged to postpone some of our activities at the site as we couldn’t go ahead with the job while it was raining. Even at the closure of our job, we encountered getting stuck with our vehicle such that the community had to volunteer to assist pulling our vehicle to get out of the mud. The process took us almost two or more hours. We thank God that none of us got injured and our team member Mr. Andrew Belko had been driving in a difficult situation. This was an ongoing activity for the five days until the well was complete.

The team work spirit encouraged everyone to work tirelessly, cooperatively and collectively. As well, the humbleness of the entire team was the choice to combat and address all challenges we encountered throughout the period of drilling a borehole at Mwasamba B.

M B well

Clean water

The borehole having clean water to the community means saving lives, and therefore without clean and safe water, the entire community is in trouble. Much of them can’t afford to boil water as they are unable to house resources for buying firewood or kerosene.

In the beginning, the community had a terrible kind of living as water could be fetched from only one borehole drilled a long time agothe one and only borehole for more than 2,500 people. The substitute for this borehole is to wait for those who would go about eight kilometers away to Lake Victoria and bring water in jerrycans of 20 liters sold at 400-500 TSH ($0.20-0.25) each, and yet still it is not clean water. Also, it is only few who can afford to buy water from those selling water. And these water business people fetch water using animal carts, so the hygiene of water is doubtful.

We got informed by one of the village leaders that one would go for queuing overnight at the oldest borehole, and he would hardly get 20 liters only simply because there was rationing. Other people would get nothing apart from queuing overnight. In comparison, after the new borehole, people would get more time for work, and people would get more resources as they will not be buying water anymore.

In some places where families are big, the burden went to an extent of forbidding students from going to school because the family would remain without water. Students will now be going to school more often. This means availability of water in Mwasamba B would bring changes socially, economically and even culturally as people were often upset on the water problem. Addressing the challenge is a positive approach towards community development.

The process of making sure the water is safe is guaranteed by the government water department by examining quality water control in the laboratory. We brought a water sample, and they are in the process of testing the water from Mwasamba B. However, the government water engineer said there’s a 95 percent chance the water is safe for consumption after seeing the sample and to tell the community to start using the water for drinking.

It is not easy to tell how often people get sick, but for sure, people get sick due to dirty consumption of water in the area. It is a distance to reach the clinic about five to 10 kilometers away. One may reach the clinic and find no medication or drugs there.

Yakobo and Boaz

Bringing the Gospel

For sure, this project has promoted the community on a spiritual level, as it is not easy to preach the Gospel to a thirsty person. But it is somehow possible to a community person to listen to you knowing exactly you played a role to get them access to clean water at their respective residence. This is even a testimony that when able to meet their physical need, you can satisfy them spiritually. Your preaching will bring hope; likewise, you addressed the water problem. The same faith they gained from the water will convince them to believe you spiritually with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.


To read about the previous borehole drilling project in Tanzania, click here.

“We will not be defeated”

February 9, 2015 by Diana Coombs

Well 04

From ELI staff Andrew Belko:

Mwabasabi village is one of the 26 villages in Busega district of the Simiyu region in Tanzania. The village is about 10 kilometers (about six miles) south of Lake Victoria. It covers an area of 20 square kilometers (about 12.4 square miles), and according to a 2012 census, the village has a total population of about 2,626 people.

There are two primary schools in the village, which are both government schools. There is no health center in the village. A mother of five shared, “We always pray to God we do not get sick. When you get sick, we have to go to Nyashimo hospital,” which is about 21 kilometers from the village. Clean drinking water is a huge step forward in preventing those sicknesses.

Only around 12 percent of the population is served with clean and safe water. The village had only one hand dug well that would go dry half the year. John Ng’indi, the Village Executive Official, said, “Our children now are not going to school because of water. Diarrhea and skin infections now (are) common in this village because of water.”

Well 01

Mwabasabi was selected to receive a borehole based on their need for clean water and their ability to contribute funding. ELI worked with the community’s water committee to select the best location for the borehole. The location is accessible to many in the community, including a primary school with about 600 students that’s located less than two kilometers away.

Throughout the drilling project, the team encountered several difficulties. The first hole was drilled to 45 feet before reaching impenetrable rock formations. The hole was dry. A second hole was drilled about 200 feet away to a similar depth of 43 feet before reaching hard rock again. Fortunately, we struck an aquifer this time and received plenty of water. Unfortunately, a pipe snapped while drilling the final few feet, leaving 15 feet of drill pipe and a drill bit stranded in the hole. Numerous attempts to recover the lost equipment were unsuccessful.

Finally, a third hole was drilled a few feet away to 45 feet with no problems. A sturdy Afridev hand-pump capable of five gallons per minute was installed. Even after pumping for hours on end, the water kept coming. The water was clean and potable.

What impressed the ELI staff most was the community’s constant participation and optimism. Even after two unsuccessful holes and nearly two weeks of work, the community kept bringing everything needed to continue, whether it was water, sand, gravel, food, etc. Men, women and children would carry hundreds of gallons of water needed each day to drill. The project was nicknamed Hatushindwi, which translates to “We will not be defeated.” They truly valued the importance of this clean water and took real ownership of it.

Well 02

Photo of the Day

August 7, 2014 by Angela Vincent


In Tanzania a father shows me his new chickens but he’s concerned as he likely will not have access to the much-needed vaccine for his chickens.


Celebrating Ministry Together – 19 Years

March 28, 2014 by Angela Vincent

19 year ann2

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”  

Mother Teresa

For we are God’s workmanship. created in Christ Jesus to do the good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.      Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) 

This month we are celebrating! It is the faithfulness of God and friends like you that has helped us put God’s love into action for the past nineteen years! It is our nineteen-year anniversary this month and though we have seen thousands come to Christ and out of poverty – we cannot forget that with your help we are changing the world – one life at a time.

Yakobo could not feed his children and the pain he felt in his own stomach was nothing compared to the pain in his heart  – knowing that as a father – he was not able to provide the feed his family needed for that day.


Don Rogers and Yakobo – 1993

What happened next changed the course of both of our lives.  We worked together with our hands and hearts to make a product – a cement water storage jar – that he might be able to sell for income – but we failed dramatically at the task.  That next week in a city far away I met a man during a “chance” encounter who just happened to be training people how to make the jars.  Yakobo attended the training and the course of his life change as he began to provide for his families need with this new business income.

Today Yakobo is the director of Empowering Lives Tanzania and has dedicated his life for the glory of God and to actions that will bring others out of the chokehold of poverty and Spiritual darkness.  He is one of over 150 national servants who now serve full time with ELI among four countries – doing things we cannot, but empowered by what we can do through our prayers and support.  For these almost two decades this has been a team effort and today – as I reflect on the faithfulness of God and His people, I am deeply moved and thankful. The magnitude of what God has done is beyond what I could have ever imagined.

Thank you for your partnership and prayers.  We see and feel a special momentum from God in our work at this time and I believe that this year, as we approach our 20 year ministry anniversary, will be one of our most productive years in terms of changed and empowered lives in our ministry history.  We have done this together because of your partnership. More lives like Yakobo’s are about to change course and for the faithfulness of our loving God and for your support – we are truly and forever grateful.

Empowering lives together,



Photo of the Day | Lake Victoria, Tanzania

March 12, 2013 by Angela Vincent


Sunset on the shores of Lake Victoria, Tanzania. (Photo by Micah Albert)


Tanzania Intern Reflection – Cameron

September 7, 2012 by admin

There is a bible story that Don Rogers likes to tell about a poor widow who owns nothing but a jar of oil. She goes to Elisha, the prophet, and he tells her to borrow empty jars from her neighbors and fill them from the one full one. Because of her faith and subsequent action, the woman is rewarded with a multitude of jars filled with oil. The widow is asked to respond in demonstration of a living faith. Through the little that she had she was eventually able to pay off her debts and live off the fruits of her faith.

In 2 Kings 6 there is a story of a young man who lacks faith in the one he serves, so much so that he trembles with a great fear. As scripture is so adept at doing, it encompasses the complexity of humanity – we are capable of moments of immense faith and remarkable fear. As servant of Elisha, seeing his city surrounded by horses and chariots from the Syrian army, the young man goes to his master with this troublesome news. The servant comes before the master and, with trembling in his voice, asks him, “What should we do?” With an unwavering and otherworldly faith, the prophet pierces that fear with these words, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see!” As the words go forth from the prophet’s mouth, the servant is able to see a great heavenly army of horses and chariots of fire.

Reading this story while serving in rural Tanzania, I cannot help but substitute the Syrian army with the realities of poverty. Being here, I am constantly bombarded with the fallenness of humanity and the amount of injustice that permeates this world. Like Elisha’s servant, I stand before my Master saying, “We are surrounded. We have no escape and the problems cannot be solved.” Thankfully my Master replies, “Do not be afraid, for those that are with us are more than those that are with them.”

Poverty will be beat, whether in this life or the next, but the beauty out of the darkness is this: We get to have God open up our eyes! Through my sojourning as a young believer, I am captivated by the way God takes circumstances that can be perceived as insurmountable, and He allows for them to expand the work of His Kingdom. Empowering Lives International is a part of this Kingdom expansion. God allows us to spread his Kingdom one training at a time, like an oasis in a desert. Only this time it is not a mirage – it’s a light that shines in the darkness.

Cameron Demetre is currently serving at ELI’s Kalemela Training Center in Tanzania. He is living in community with the Yasini family.

When Children Change the World- Water of Life Church and Fish Ponds in Tanzania

August 16, 2012 by Angela Vincent

Vicky and I at WOL.

In the Spring, I received an email from the Christian Education Coordinator at Water of Life Church in Fontana. She wanted to know of a project that the kids in the children’s ministry could be learning about and raising money for this summer. I shared with her the need to help fund one of our newest income generating projects, the fish ponds in Tanzania. The Tanzanian government has been a huge advocate in buying the fish that we cultivate in the ponds, which provides jobs for people in the community, and helps fund trainings for needy families in life giving skills!

Fast forward to this weekend, where I went and spoke to the children at Water of Life. (more…)

Summer Cultivate has Arrived

August 9, 2012 by Angela Vincent

Be sure to be on the lookout for our Summer Cultivate magazine. As usual, it’s full of good stories and photos. We’re excited to share it with you!

Spring Cultivate is Here

April 16, 2012 by Angela Vincent

Our spring Cultivate Magazine is here! Check out all the great stories here.

Celebrate International Womans Day

March 8, 2012 by Angela Vincent

Rural women constitute one-fourth of the world’s population. They are leaders, decision-makers, producers, workers, entrepreneurs and service providers. Their contributions are vital to the well-being of families and communities, and of local and national economies.

Yet rural women’s rights, contributions and priorities have been largely overlooked. Rural women have also been hard hit by the economic and financial crisis, volatile food prices and export-driven agriculture. They need to be fully engaged in efforts to shape a response to these inter-connected crises and in decision-making at all levels.

Now Is the Time to Act

Rural women are key agents of change. Their leadership and participation are needed to shape responses to development challenges and recent crises.

Women are central to the development of rural areas: they account for a great proportion of the agricultural labour force, produce the majority of food grown, especially in subsistence farming, and perform most of the unpaid care work in rural areas. It is critical that their contributions be recognized and that their voices be heard in decision-making processes at all levels of governments, and within rural organizations.

Consider this story and learn how you can get involved today.

Here are a few photos from our Communications Director, Micah Albert, from over the last 5 years.


South Sudan



South Sudan


Bukavu, DRC

South Sudan


South Sudan

Global Data

70 percent of the developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor live in rural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly one-third of these, while South Asia is now home to about half.

In 2010, 925 million people were chronically hungry, of whom 60 percent were women.

Agriculture provides a livelihood for 86 percent of rural women and men, and employment for about 1.3 billion smallholder farmers and landless workers, 43 percent of whom are women.
An estimated two-thirds of the 400 million poor livestock keepers worldwide are women.

The burden of unpaid care work is substantial. Globally there are 884 million people without safe drinking water, 1.6 billion people without reliable sources of energy, 1 billion people who lack access to roads, 2.6 billion people without satisfactory sanitation facilities, and 2.7 billion people who rely on open fires and traditional cooking stoves. Rural women carry most of the unpaid work burden due to lack of infrastructure and services.

In rural areas of the developing world, excluding China, 45 percent of women aged 20–24 were married or in union before the age of 18, compared to 22 percent of urban women.

    Past Success, Future Hope

    February 7, 2012 by Don Rogers

    Has this ever happened to you?  That moment when you pass someone or someplace and a flood of memories surfaces like a submarine bursting through the ocean ceiling.  That happened to me recently as I was driving near Mwanza, Tanzania and felt compelled to pass by a village where I lived 16 years ago.  During those days the plague of poverty and lack of ideas and opportunity brought over a dozen Tanzanians and myself to our knees to pray and then to our knees to work as we filled small plastic bags with soil and seeds. Together we prayed that the thousands of seeds we had planted would germinate to become small trees that would strengthen the environment and generate income for people who were suffering because of poverty.

    Not only did those seeds germinate but so did many other ideas as like minded people came together to begin a new ministry called Empowering Lives International.  Over 15 years have passed since that first project was initiated. As I drove by that same village recently I felt compelled to pass by the same compound that was once filled with trees and hopeful lives to see, if by chance or providence, I might meet someone I might remember.

    Just pulling off the road at that point brought back many memories but I was not prepared for what I was about to see.  First of all – the tree nursery that we began over fifteen years ago was still there –  BUT –  it was ten times larger than before!  As I walked in among the neatly arranged rows of small trees, flowers, and colors, I approached a small group of women who were busily filling tubes with soil and chatting as they worked. I greeted each person one by one and felt that I recognized the last woman. I stared until I remembered who she was.  A moment that took place 15 years ago came forward in my mind and I asked if she was the one.  And she was.


    Photo of the Day

    February 2, 2012 by editor

    Portrait of one of our successful chicken farmers in Tanzania. (photo: Micah Albert)

    Cultivate Winter Issue has been Published

    November 23, 2011 by Angela Vincent

    Check your mailbox this week for our newest edition of Cultivate Magazine – it’s hot off the press. It’s full of great stories, images, writing, and great ways for you to get involved this holiday season and help those that ELI serves in Africa. Click here to see the magazine.

    Photo of the Day

    November 2, 2011 by Angela Vincent

    Yamkindo and Issac Ruto feeding the fish ponds in Tanzania. Not only will these provide ideas for income for locals, but they also help repopulate the fish population in Lake Victoria and provide income generation for ELI as a whole. (photo: Micah Albert)

    Photo of the Day

    October 25, 2011 by Angela Vincent

    More from life on Lake Victoria. (photo: Micah Albert)

    Photo of the Day

    October 20, 2011 by Angela Vincent

    Daily life on Lake Victoria, Tanzania. (Photo: Micah Albert)

    Photo of the Day

    October 11, 2011 by Don Rogers

    Yes, the insects grow big here in Africa.

    Photo of the Day

    October 7, 2011 by Angela Vincent

    Even though lake Victoria is so readily available, most Tanzanian’s don’t have daily access to water. Farming is difficult – that is why ELI is empowering the small farmer in Tanzania with poultry training. (photo: Micah Albert)