Water, the Ray of Hope

Michael Kiprop | July 30, 2018

For many years, several times a week 43 year old Mary Nashida travelled from her home in Kaloboy community to Kawalase, Lomeyen village to a dry river bed to fetch water. The journey took 8 hours (4 hrs. one way) to fetch 20 liters to bring home and an extra 5 liters to drink along the way.

Nashida’s community in the semi-arid region of Turkana County, Kenya used to receive water from a government water trucking initiative. However, due to road conditions restricting truck access, communities would often wait for over two weeks between water deliveries.

Life became miserable for women who could do nothing else but look for water. Because the nearest school was over 7 kilometers away and there was no extra water for their journey or meal preparation, many children stopped going to school.

All of this changed in 2016, when CWS and its partners responded to the cry of the community.  CWS organized and trained the community to pull together local resources and develop solutions to address the water scarcity.

CWS sunk a borehole that yielded an appreciable amount of water, installed a solar powered pump, and provided two 20,000-liter water tanks. Led by women in the community, people in the village were then trained on hygiene and sanitation which has since helped to reduce incidences of water borne diseases.

Mary says that with availability of water, the population flourished. Within a short time, the community began to grow, and a new school was constructed in the area for the local children. CWS supported the school with desks, school uniforms, staff quarters and fencing of the school and sensitized the community to take their children to school. With an environment conducive to learning, the children are now excited about attending school.

Water availability also has had a strong positive impact on the lives of women. By reducing the time needed to gather water by 75%, women have more time available to pursue income. Mary started a stall where she sells food and clothes on Saturdays at the community Sale Yard.

In early 2018, Mary and other women in the community came together and formed Kakonile Women Group to provide a platform for sharing ideas on income generation and encourage savings and investment. CWS has supported this group with a savings kit. The 29-member group has now mobilized savings to a tune of US $677.16 (KES 68,000.00), and members will soon start accessing loans, once the group’s loaning bylaws have been ratified by the members.

Mary intends to be among the first to access the loan to expand her business and support her children in school. Her husband, who is a member of the CWS supported Pastoral Field School (PFS), has been very supportive as he knows the business will see the family through in difficult times of drought.

The group members are also determined to start a vegetable garden. At the moment, they get their vegetables from Lodwar Town, 54km away. Mary is very optimistic about the future.

Prepared by Michael Kiprop Kendagor-Emergency and DRR Coordinator CWS Africa