Kenya: Efforts to ensure rural villagers have continued and secure access to clean water

From February to November in 2013, AAR Japan drilled wells and installed water supply equipment in five villages in Garissa County in the North Eastern Province of Kenya to allow villagers that had been affected by recurrent drought to obtain access to clean water. These efforts have lightened the burden on women and children fetching drinking water and has enabled some 5,200 villagers to live a life free from water deficiency even during the dry season. AAR Japan also formed Water Users’ Associations in each village and presented a workshop on sustainability to the villagers. Through the workshop, participants learnt how to use the installed water supply equipment properly, how to perform basic repairs, the collection of service fees from users to be used in the case of equipment failure, and the importance of keeping the equipment clean. Six months after the water supply equipment was installed, we visited the same villages to see how the villagers had been managing their facilities.

In Quabobey village, six months after the construction of the new well, the water users’ association continues to follow the management method promoted by AAR Japan’s workshop. AAR Japan resident staff member, Mr. Shin Suzuki, enjoys a photo with the villagers benefiting from the new well. (front row far left, May 19th, 2014).

We used to spend many hours fetching water necessary for daily life

The Tana River, Kenya’s longest river, is a primary source of water for many villages in Garissa County.  However, the Tana River often floods during the rainy season and consequently most villages were settled approximately 2-3 kilometers away from the river. Among those villages, fetching water is considered a task of the women and children and can take up to several hours per day. An adult woman will carry approximately 20 kilograms of water each time she fetches water from the river.

Mr. Daigo Takagi checking that the water supply equipment installed by AAR Japan is functioning properly. (Quabobey village, Dec 2nd, 2013).
AAR Japan built wells in five villages in Garissa County, each having the dual effect of reducing the burden of having to retrieve water from the river and providing the villagers with secure access to safe water. 
"Before, I used to walk 3kms to the river to fetch water twice a day, every morning and evening. Now we have the well, and my task has become much easier. Besides, well-water tastes better than river-water.” Ms. Rukia Hante (pictured left).

Villagers’ ingenuity “not to waste even a drop of water”

We periodically visit the villages where we built the wells to see, amongst other things, if the water supply facilities are being well managed and if the water users’ association is functioning well. On 19 May this year, we visited Quabobey village and were amazed by the ingenuity of the villagers. We were pleased to find that, based on the systems they learnt from AAR’s workshop, the association has been collecting and saving the service fees from users and allotting it for the repair of faucets and the stockade as needed. Another inspiring discovery was the initiative of the association to establish and cultivate a vegetable field around the well in order to not waste any water spilt whilst drawing. The spilt water is used in the vegetable field to grow vegetables that are sold at the market and all profits are allocated and kept for future repair works. 

A workshop for the water users’ association of Ture village, organized by AAR officer. (July 3rd, 2013).
Vegetable fields cultivated around the new well in Quabobey village utilizing spilled water for irrigation. (May 3rd, 2014).
On the same day, we visited Rahma village and found that the local water users’ association had installed a self-made fence of shrubs around the facility.  As nomads occupy a large proportion of the population in this area, keeping cows, goats, sheep and camels as livestock, prior to the construction of the fence, intrusion by livestock resulting in equipment failure and water pollution was common. We found that other villages had also constructed similar fences around their facilities to secure the safe water supply from similar hazards. 

Hygiene education reduces the risks of infectious disease

In addition to installing vital water supply equipment, such as wells, AAR Japan is working on installing toilets and providing hygiene education to rural villages in Garissa County of Kenya. We provide knowledge of hygiene and educate the villagers in basic hygienic practices, such as pre-meal and post-excretion hand washing, to reduce the risks of infectious disease being contracted and spreading.
※This program was supported by a grant from Japan Platform (JPF), in addition to your kind donations. Since January 2014, we have been conducting our activity with the support of Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects founded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Reporter (as of the date of the article) Mr. Shin SUZUKI, AAR Kenya resident staff. Mr. Suzuki worked in the AAR Japan Kabul office from 2005 to 2007. After working in the private sector, Mr. Suzuki returned to AAR Japan on Mar 2014 and has since been placed in Kenya. Mr. Suzuki is originally from Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.
Japanese-English translation by Mr Masaharu Sato
English editing by Mr Peter Bungate

The article on this page has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Volunteer Programme. Their generous contributions allow us to spread our activities and ideas globally, through an ever-growing selection of our reports from the field.