Kenya: Successfully Installing a Clean Water Supply System

AAR Japan has engaged in a project to deliver reliable clean water supplies to people in the area of Mutomo in Kitsui District, eastern Kenya, where water shortage is a chronic problem. In Mutomo, many locals rely on river water or rainwater as they do not have a sufficient number of wells. Water fetching is hard labor that uses up time and energy, requiring some people to spend as much as three hours just to reach a water source. During the dry seasons when rivers dry up, locals dig into the riverbeds to collect water for domestic use, but such fragile water sources becomes even scarcer during subsequent droughts. Generally, women and children bear the burden of fetching water, which often prevents them from attending school or doing farm work.

“Our two hours of water-fetching time will be shortened to five minutes,” says Perez wa kasek, 57, with her two grandchildren in front of a completed water shop and water tower. Pictured on the right is Daigo TAKAGI from AAR Japan’s Kenya Office.

In order to alleviate water shortage problems that recur every dry season, AAR Japan developed and installed a system that pumps water up from a 54m-deep well, which is immune to droughts, and deliver the water to four water-selling facilities via pipelines 17km in length. This system enables the surrounding residents to buy safe, clean water at their nearest water shop, and the fees used to cover fuel and maintenance costs for the motor that pumps water from the well. Furthermore, in order to ensure long-term access to clean water for the locals, a water management committee was set up for each water shop to manage the profits and maintain the facilities. The entire water supply system was finally completed in October 2012.

Clean Water is Now Available for about 5,500 Kenyans

After confirming a steady flow of water to all four water shops in mid-October, AAR Japan transferred the operation of all the system facilities, such as the pipelines, water shops and water towers, to the Tanathi water services board, a Kenyan government agency, on October 30th. The transfer was held in the presence of Kenyan officials from the local government, the Tanathi water services board, and the Water Management Committee members from each water shop. Presently, the Tanathi water services board and local residents will manage and maintain the system operation. “(Thanks to the installation of water shops in our communities,) many locals now have access to sufficiently clean water all year round. We (the water management committee) will maintain the system responsibly. Thank you very much,” the committee members told us with zeal.

October 30th, 2012 – “We’ll manage and maintain the system with responsibility,” said officials from the Kenyan government and Tanathi water services board, and the members of the Water Management Committee. Pictured on the left is Rie MATSUMOTO from AAR Japan’s Kenya Office.

After the transfer of the water supply system, AAR Japan revisited the facilities and confirmed the system’s proper operation. In front of each water shop, many locals were waiting in lines to fill their plastic containers with clean water. Two weeks after the transfer, AAR Japan conducted a survey based on interviews with the local customers of the water shops. The result shows that the water supply system has helped to greatly reduce their water-fetching time. Over 80% of respondents said they now spend only 15-30 minutes to get their clean water, while more than half of them were spending 1-2 hours for fetching water before the water supply system installation.

AAR Japan will continue to support Kenyan people suffering from water shortage and work on alleviating drought problems in the country.

November 13th, 2012 – The Makele water shop near a grocery is always crowded with locals.

November 2nd, 2012 – It is finally opening day. Many plastic containers are prepared in front of the Makele water shop while the committee members get ready.

November 8th, 2012 – A lot of donkeys carrying plastic containers full of water! (The Nzalani water shop)

November 13th, 2012 – “Now we can drink safe, clean water without any worry. Thank you very much.” Many locals enthusiastically participated in our interview. (The Nzalani water shop)

November 3rd, 2012 – Children are also delighted. (The Tuvila water shop)

Daigo TAKAGI, AAR Japan’s Kenya Office
After working for a private company, he moved to Britain to do postgraduate work in reconstruction assistance to war-torn communities. He joined AAR Japan’s Tokyo Office in May 2011 and engaged in emergency relief and reconstruction efforts for areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, focusing on support activities in Fukushima Prefecture. He has been based in the Kenya Office since February 2012.