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  • Jan 16, 2017
  • by PACIDA

Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of our daily lives for sustainable   development. Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively  impact food security, livelihood choices, good health and well-being and educational opportunities for under-privileged communities across the world. Much of the earth’s population lacks adequate clean water either because of physical scarcity or because they are denied access to equitable water, an absolute necessity of life. Such conditions inevitably breed conflict.

In Kenya the population with access to clean and safe drinking water is at 53% and a recent study puts the figure for Marsabit at less than 30% compared to 60% in other counties such as those in western province. In addition 66% of the sources in Marsabit are contaminated. These figures clearly indicate inequitable access to clean safe water in the country and even more so for the arid and water scarce Marsabit County which lacks fresh permanent water sources.

The Need

 PACIDA, a local NGO in Marsabit County envisages to improve the lives of the community it serves by provision of safe clean water in a move to enhance peaceful co-existence and attain sustainable aspirations envisaged in vision 2030 and overally contribute to the global Sustainable Development Goal No.6 of ensuring access to water and sanitation for all. PACIDA’s Partnership Preparedness Agreement (PPA) project, supported by Christian Aid has invested in a critical water infrastructure in Funan Qumbi village in Moyale Sub-county. The organization has put up a 350,000 litres rain water run-off underground tank in a bid to mitigate the water stress experienced in this underserved community.
Prior to PACIDA’s intervention, Funan Qumbi community accessed water from Rawan, 17 kilometres from Funan Qumbi village, a journey which lasted for two days with the aid of donkeys and camels. Women spent considerable time away from their children/husbands, something which brought strains in marriages including physical abuses and they were also predisposed to many risks. “Personally, I spent very little time with my children, by the time I got home, I was weary, house chores were pending and my husband complained of not meet my marital obligations, says Qaballe Huka, a 40-year old mother of six.

Shuke Dalacha, 14 years-in class three at Funan Qumbi Primary School says, “Many learners suffered from illnesses like diarrhea since there was no water for hand washing which led to truancy.” Our teachers could send each pupil home to collect 3 litres of water for cooking food daily at school yet even in our houses there was no iota of water and this to a large extent impacted negatively on our academic performance. Hygiene was also a challenge but became worse when we were on our menses.

Relief from our Troubled Lives
Once, households in Funan Qumbi community were issued with plastic tanks during an emergency for water trucking purposes but as soon as emergency ended, the tanks were rendered obsolete as all houses had no gutters for rain water roof harvesting. At the time of PACIDA’s need’s assessment, construction of a separate tank had just begun but we were certain, it could not satiate the now growing population (currently at 373 people) in lips and bounds. As part of community contribution, site clearing and excavation was communally done and there was commencement of construction of a rain water harvesting underground tank.

Mr. Elema Wario, the 90-year old Village elder says, “We refer to this tank as an up-to-the-minute tank because it’s one of its kind and of superior quality. We have a Water Users Committee Association (WUAs) that looks into issues of its management. Each household collects 100 litres after every one day and a 20 litre jerican goes for Kshs. 2/=.”
In close collaboration with the County Department of Water, the WUAs were trained on Water Management Skills and this to a large extent has contributed to great management of the water tank.

The revenue that they collect from selling water is banked in a bank account and the money is used for the tank’s maintance and in the event the water runs out, like it has now due to the prolonged dry season, the community is self-reliant and are able to purchase water through water tankering and even clear hospital bills for villagers who are hard pressed financially. The Funan Qumbi water Users Association have a registration certificate and this they anticipate will enable solicit for assistance for more water sources from both state and non-state actors.

Benefits of the Tank

Apart from the water tank being used for domestic use at home, the Funan Qumbi community embraced for the first time although in a small scale, environmentally sustainable programs like agriculture that improved human and soil health, as well as education and preparedness in schools and communities. Mr. Guyo says that the source has also played a peacebuilder role in the community where it has enhanced cohesion amongst villagers. On gender integration, he says the girl child just like the boy can equally access education for equal hours without missing some class hours as water is accessible from the nearest source. The same water is used in the community’s school for cooking as well as for handwashing thereby boosting school attendance/academic performance, good hygiene practices, leading to reduction of illnesses. Water quality is no longer a challenge since the drinking water is free of microbiological contamination leading to improved health of communities unlike in the past where sources were not protected. 

A 50-year old Ms. Shaku Elema says, “We are very grateful to PACIDA through Christian Aid for making us realize the existence of this fundamental water source. I now spend much time with my family and get zero complains from my husband. I practice small scale farming, I eat healthy as I grow green vegetables. The Funan Qumbi people would appreciate it if a solar powered borehole would be put up. This ensures that even in the absence of rain, we still can access water from the borehole. Seeing as the construction standards for the tank were higher, we would love it if same quality checks are considered and only increased as this will ensure longevity in any structure, eventually going a long way in serving the community for considerable number of years.”