In a bid to improve water access to community members from Ambalo Location of Moyale Sub- County, PACIDA Kenya has partnered with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Caritas Germany to excavate a 35,000 cubic meters water pan. The area is dry and community members trudge long distances in search of water for household and livestock use. Within Ambalo location, there are only three small capacity earth pans which whenever it rains, their water could only last for three weeks before diminishing. This is due to the high absorbent nature of the earth pan soil.
The only other water source around is a borehole, whose water happens to have high salinity levels, above the World Health Organization acceptable salinity level . Barako Guyo Koro, a 32- year old gentleman says he has been a victim of impacts of high water salinization. Others have developed bone- related conditions whose treatment is too expensive for the common person. “I have had to use much money in hospital for treatment of a cardiovascular disease and such is the case with many of us here.
In collaboration with Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Marsabit County, Qalalola water project was initiated after the community and local leaders approached PACIDA for support for a water source. They identified an appropriate site for excavation of the pan and a 35,000,000 Litres pan was excavated.
Marsabit County is considered a water scarce county with most of the parts often experiencing extreme water shortage during periodic dry spells and erratic rainfall patterns. Movement of population to areas with water sources leading to increased deficit between available water supplies and the needs of people. Lack of water is the largest constraint to sustainable livelihoods in many parts of the county. Rapid Runoff during the rainy season frequently results in high proportion going to waste or even becoming destructive.
The Building Resilience to Drought and Adaptive Capacity of Vulnerable Communities in the Arid Lands of Marsabit County in Northern Kenya project recognize that there is need to decentralize water supply to households and small community levels hence the construction of water sources in the entire Marsabit County.
“ Prior to the construction of the pan, women could walk 15 kilometers away i n search for less saline water, says Elema Halake, 58. This supersedes the maximum sphere standards distance from a household to the nearest water point of 500 meters. Ms. Elema Halake adds, “ as soon as we got our children ready for school, we could leave as early as 7.00 am to draw water. Due to the long trekking distances (30 Kilometers return journey), harsh weather condition and dilapidated roads, we spent about eight hours to get back home. Most times we could get home around 3.00pm in the afternoon, our children would come back for lunch and not find anything to eat in the house. Many times they went back to school on empty stomach s. This interfered with their class concentration and ultimately overall academic performance. This though is now a thing of the past, says Chief Ali Duba of Ambalo location.
Due to the much water demand, some parents tagged along their children to the water points to boost in the quantity of water at home forcing them to forego school classes. T he mother alone could only carry 20 Litres, not enough for a household size of six per day . According to the sphere standards, an average water use for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene in any household is at least 15 Litres per person per day .
The earth pan was excavated during the dry season which meant until the next rain, the pan would remain dry. During the 2017 long rains, the pan harnessed enough water to the brim. The Ambalo location Chief, Mr. Ali Duba says, “it is good to see a dam full of water that will take you until the next rain season”. He added that Water is life, important to livestock, for children and community members. It would not be possible but PACIDA made it possible. He further said “I would like to congratulate the organization because you are the first partners committed for the future. We look forward for the pan to be standing for the next twenty years and more water resource development projects coming up”.
Having previously not had a clean water source for domestic use, the Ambalo Water Management Committee decided to reserve the Qalalola water pan exclusively for domestic use. The water project is currently supporting 300 households and is anticipated to last the community for 3 months, hoping it gets them to the next rainy season. This is up from 3 weeks previously while the distance to the water point has reduced from 15 kilometers previously to 4 kilometers.
Halima Ali is the Chairlady of Ambalo Women Savings and Lending Group who meet weekly for group’s activities. “Many are times women failed to attend the group meetings in the pretext they were chasing after the scarce commodity; water otherwise considered a gem in our society. Now, the situation is different, we all have so much time in our hands as the distance to water point has drastically reduced , says Halima. She adds, “we have so much time that as a women group, we have initiated the fencing of the water pan to keep it away from animals, thereby promoting water safety and for our children’s safety. Women are also undertaking other economic enabling activities like petty trade, a thing which has boosted the family’s economic base. The women group members are hoping to start small scale kitchen gardening to diversify their livelihoods. Plans are underway to establish a vegetable nursery and later own transplant to a bigger piece of land. The food crop will be sold to community members within Ambalo for di et diversification and later expand to large scale.
In a rare expression of gratitude, Mr Barako Guyo Koro, a member of the Water Management Committee said “I am happy because our children will no longer go far to fetch water after school. This we hope will boost our academic performance in Moyale sub- county as they now have more time to focus on their studies. The presence of the earth
pan heightens security as the rate of attacks by wild animals to our children and women will lessen. It also improves overall health of the people of Ambalo making us to use little money on hospital bill. ”
“We are too grateful for this noble course, if it were possible for the entire village to come physically to PACIDA and register our gratitude, we would have come. But please accept our appreciation, we are grateful. Please thank Caritas Germany on our behalf too, they made it possible,” says Chief Ali with a wide grin on his face.