Marsabit is a rain-deficient county that largely relies on rain-dependent water systems. Frequent droughts coupled with the effects of climate change are resulting in decreasing amounts of available water county-wide. With no permanent rivers in the county, during the rainy season and early dry season, over 70% of the pastoralist population and their livestock rely on boreholes, pans, and shallow wells. Only 4% of the population has access to piped water. These sources quickly dry up with the onset of the dry season and the population has to rely on a limited number of high yielding boreholes, often at an average distance of about 30 km away. According to the Marsabit County Integrated Development Plan, 2013-2017, “most of the resources are used to take care of emergencies at the expense of longer-term development”
On Sanitation, households with latrines account for 34.3 per cent of the population. Waste/garbage disposal is done by public garbage heap burning which account for 19.7 per cent, garbage pit (12.1 per cent), farm garden (8.9 per cent), public garbage heap (1.9 per cent) and 0.4 per cent disposed by local authority.
Girls and women, who are traditionally responsible for collecting water long distances from their residential areas bear the burden of the communities’ survival at the expense of their own education and development. Inaccessibility to clean portable water predisposes families to water borne diseases especially during the dry season where water for domestic and livestock use is drawn from open dams and water pans. During the rainy season, the community fetches water from seasonal surface runoff and streams which are unsafe for human consumption.
PACIDA continues to make a difference in the communities through the construction of large underground water tanks and water facilities for livestock, as well as replacing diesel-powered pumps with solar ones on boreholes. This has made a very big difference in water availability, accessibility, affordability and regularity (water security), both in urban and in grazing areas.
Training of Water User Committees (WUCs) has improved management aspects like accounting and book keeping. The cost of pumping water has reduced where solar water pumps have been installed, resulting in positive economic impact. Distances covered to the nearest water point have reduced from 15-20 km 10 years ago to about 1-5km currently, with some locations such as Loglogo, where with PACIDA support, water has been piped up to the homesteads (Manyattas), significantly reducing the time spent by women and girls on collecting water.