Canadian water whisperer a vital resource in rural Kenya
Lex Rutherford, 86, has changed the lives of thousands of farmers
At 86, an age when most of his friends are taking it easy, Canadian Lex Rutherford is on a mission. He's in Kenya showing farmers how to find water beneath their fields.
Fetching water is a back-breaking chore on many Kenyan farms, involving several daily trips — usually by women — to the local river. Digging a well on the farm brings irrigation, which multiplies crop yields and allows farmers to spend much more time tending fields.
It can also save lives. Drought has been hammering Kenyan farmers, who depend on unpredictable rains for irrigation, and livestock has been dying and crops failing.
So, Rutherford's work has turned him into something of a celebrity. A retired agricultural specialist, he's helped thousands of farmers since arriving in the country four years ago from Vancouver Island.
Some might recognize his technique, using two pieces of wire to detect water, as something called dowsing. But Rutherford insists that God has a hand in moving the wires.
Once he finds the water, he shows farmers how to create wells — shallow enough to be dug out by hand, deep enough to provide a steady source of water.
By showing farmers how to create a steady source of water, he's handing responsibility for providing water back to the community. He trains pairs of women and men so the knowledge can be passed on. "I don't want to be a resource that eventually disappears," he says.
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