In January of this year, I visited several CWS water projects in West Pokot County, one of the driest areas of Kenya. The county is prone to drought, with erratic rainfalls and temperatures that average 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here, CWS partners with Yang’at, an organization that began in 1999 by a group of college girlfriends who, when they returned to their community after graduation, decided to do something to help other young girls. Initially, they focused their efforts on school enrollment, but they soon realized that the best way to increase enrollment was to help their communities secure water.
In West Pokot County women and children must walk an average of six miles round trip to collect water. Once they reach the water source, they may spend as much as two hours waiting in line. For the women this means that they’re unable to do other activities that might bring money to their family. For the children this means that they’re unable to go to school.
This area of Kenya is known for its honey. The bees that make this honey need water to dilute any honey that’s too thick and too cool the hive. When water isn’t available, the bees will go to the nearest source of moisture. In the driest part s of West Pokot County, they go to the eye sockets of young children or to women who are birthing at home.
Standing at one of the dams constructed with funds made available through CWS, one of the community leaders thanked us and said, “Thank you for the sand dam. Because of you, our women can now give birth in peace.”
On International Women’s Day, I am proud that I have contributed to this work.
Sarah Krause, Deputy Director, CWS Immigration and Refugee Program