February 9th, 2012- Yoko HAYASHI of Tokyo Headquarters office conducts field research on the local water situation. (Mutomo District, Kitui County)
East Africa: We Are Delivering Safe Water to Areas Suffering from Water Shortage
In response to the drought that struck East Africa last year, AAR JAPAN carried out an emergency assistance operation from August to November 2011, distributing food and non-food items to disaster victims in northeastern Kenya. We also set up tents to be used as elementary schools and distributed school supplies in refugee camps in Dadaab near the Somali border, where there was a massive influx of drought-affected refugees. Currently, we are engaging in a project to deliver safe water in Mutomo District, Kitui County in the Eastern Province, an area suffering from severe water shortage. This report is made by Yoko HAYASHI, who is in charge of the Kenya project at the AAR JAPAN Tokyo Headquarters office, based on her 1-month visit in Kenya earlier this year.
In the Effort to Reduce Potential Damages Caused by Future Droughts
In spite of the average amount of rainfall seen throughout Kenya during the wet season last October, there have been repeated cases of drought in the Eastern and North Eastern Provinces, indicating a possibility of further water shortage in these regions. In Kitui County of the Eastern Province, only a third of the population has access to safe water around their homes even when there is no drought, and the rest must draw water from wells and rivers that are 2 to 7 km away by foot.
Generally, it is the women or children’s responsibilities to bring home water. When we spoke to those who were drawing water at the river, they told us that they would be able to spend this time on going to school, farming, and being with their families if they had closer access to water.
In response, AAR JAPAN made a decision to initiate a project that would provide safe water in Mutomo District, Kitui County and began field research in December 2011.
Not Rainwater, Not Water from Riverbeds, but Clean Water from a Shop
Starting in February 2012, we have been setting up pipelines that will enable the delivery of water from deep wells, which would not dry up in the case of a drought, to remote areas that have limited access to clean water. In addition, we have been constructing water shops that will sell the water carried through the pipelines with a twist of a faucet. The water will be sold to the local residents at a low price and the profit would be allocated for repair costs of the pipelines and water shops.
We also have plans to build a bathroom nearby, and instruct the community members on how to use the toilets and the importance of washing their hands and other hygiene measures. Furthermore, we will set up a committee that would manage the water shops and bathrooms. By selecting the committee members through an election led by the residents themselves and managing the water supply system including the pipelines and water shops on their own, our objective is for the residents to operate and utilize the equipment on a long-term basis.
We plan to set up 2 pipelines (12 km in total length), 4 water shops, and 4 bathrooms by this coming June.
*This project was made possible thanks to a grant provided by Japan Platform in addition to generous individual donations.