December, 2016 El Besso, North Horr Sub-county- Iya Qoto, a female herder residing in one of the outskirts far flang villages of El Besso, 30 kilometres from El Besso watering point and 70 kilometres from North Horr town of North Horr Sub-county, had made it a routine every four days a week at 3.00am to start her journey to the closest water point, El Besso. Each day she set out on a journey to the borehole, the trekking distance was too far that it lasted two days before reaching the water point. Her worst days were when there was a mechanical break down. She could camp by the water point with hopes that it would be repaired soon.

“One day I got to the borehole, my animals and I were stranded with no idea of where to turn to. Days on end I stayed by the borehole hoping the repair would be hastened. The water committee members kept on reassuring us that the Marsabit Borehole Rapid Response Team were on their way to do repair and each new day we became anticipative. But after what seemed like eternity precisely 6 days, I decided to seek other alternatives. I had to walk all the way to North Horr, another 40 kilometres from El Besso to get to a water point,” says Ms.Qoto nodding her head in disbelief. She tells me that such has been a routine to them as the last time the borehole brokedown, it took 3 months to be repaired. In the three months, they could walk 70 kilometres in a bid to satiate their thirst and that of their livestock.

El Besso Community has a 502 households, with each household having averagely 6 family members, the entire population therefore is 3,012 people and .Whenever the borehole broke down, ther entire population with ther livelihoods were agonized. The community having made numerous request to PACIDA, through it’s project, Building Resilience Against Drought (BREAD) II, the organisation decided to put up an end to their distress. The project put up a state of the art Photo Voltaic Solar System that had a total of 80 solar panels each of 195W, crystalline PV solas module to provide a maximum of 15,600W output and a reserve capcity ovr the rated power requirement of the pump. The project aims at building resilience of the pastoralist community in Marsabit.

The El Besso community used as much as 60 litres of diesel on the generator daily which costed 7200/=, 10,000/= is spent on repairs of any minor breakdown almost on a daily basis. “Sometimes we can even end up spending 30,000/= per repair especially if we have to purchase spare parts,” says Umuro Huka, a 39-year old father of 3 children. He adds, “Whenever our borehole broke down, I walked to Qarqa, 38 Kilometres away and here I could be charged double the amount because I don’t reside on Qarka. If a resident waters his camel at 10/=, I, a non-resident could pay 20/= instead, nonetheless we found ourselves still going as this was the only alternative.”

Darare Guyo is a member of the Ele Besso Water Users Association. The 55-year old lady says whenever there was a borehole breakdown, they had to wait for a technical person to come from Marsabit town, 264KM away. She spent so much time away from family as she went to look for water. Holding her chin she says, “Would you believe me if I told you that many countless times my children and I slept on hungry stomachs not because I did not food in my house, but because even drops of it could not be seen. And when I sit down by these troughs and see water consistently oozing out with a lot of pressure, I can only thank PACIDA. This is the best gift we have received from anyone in a long time. I am not at all worried that I would wake up and find a dry tap. The amount that we should to charge per animal has now reduced by half since the installation of the solar system. Previously we could charge 10/= per camel/cow but now its 5/=.”

This is largely because less revenue goes into maintanance and operations of the borehole. Again, the number of livestock watering from El Besso have now increased implying that the revenue collected per day has increased. Learning at school can now go on without any interruption. Previously, the primary school around closed down due to lack of water whenever the borehole brokedown. Mr. Badake Abagiro, El Besso Primary School’s Board of Management member and a village elder says parents intially could be asked to pay money to purchase water for the school. 10,000Litres tanks costed 7,000/= and was never sufficient for the school for a term. He says the school could use upto 20,000litres and was costly for everyone, Now though, no more payment of money towards purchasing of water and the school are indebted to PACIDA for the great assistance, he says. He says water is accessible to all. The disabled, lactating mothers, pregnant women, the aged, children alike do not have to cover many kilometres in search of water.

So I wonder what they now do with the revenue as literally no monay goes into maintance and repair and the 50-year old Badake tells me they use to assist the community. Many times they have supported the sick amongst them with the money collected. If a community member is hospitalised and the bill is too much, the committee sits down and decides how much to give towards assisting the individual. “We are also soon starting El Besso savings and Lending group where community members can borrow money, repay with profit and better themselves economically. By this, we’ll ensure poverty levels in our community is reduced and promote sustainable livelihood, we are forever grateful for this noble intervention” says Mr.Badake.

“If it were humanly possible, we could not have waited for PACIDA staff to come to us, we, the entire El Besso community would have been the first people to come and register our appreciation as we are extremely grateful, adds Umuro Huka,” bursting out into a glorious laughter.