In Lenkisim Village, Kajiado South, the community is excited by a borehole that produces green water since the water is a natural resource that comes from underneath the ground in the same way that plants grow.
Drought is frequent in Kajiado County. This is a time when most seasonal riverbeds dry up, forcing the community to rely on water from highly contaminated sources such as dry river beds, water pans (locally known as silanga), unprotected open wells, and boreholes to which women have to walk more than 10 kilometres to access.
To make matters worse, the community does not have an adequate way of disposing human waste. They do it indiscriminately in the bushes, posing a problem during surface run offs because the seasonal river beds where they draw their water get contaminated by the faecal matter.
In the Maasai culture, women and girls are responsible for collecting water. They not only have to fetch water for domestic use, but for their cattle too and this task takes up almost a whole day.
“I used to walk up – to 10 kilometres to fetch water with my child on my back. I could only manage to fetch water two days in a week for my seven children and husband since I could not manage to come to the water source every-day with my little one.” Says Teresia of Lenkisim Village
In addition, the water she fetched was neither good nor clean for drinking and cooking. She says they used to get stomach upsets and diarrhoea presenting an additional cost for treatment.
“Sometimes we would come to fetch water and find elephants at the water point. We could not stop the elephants from quenching their thirst as they got violent if they were denied water. We had to go back home and come the following day.” Teresia says while placing water cans on a donkey.
Amref Health Africa in Kenya has worked to create change for Teresia and many others like her by building a borehole for the community. As their contribution, community members are required to buy diesel for the pump. Teresia says she buys a 20 litre can of diesel to fuel the pump that lasts her two weeks before she has to buy diesel again. Each community member who fetches water from the borehole has to purchase diesel in order to fetch the water.
This has been made possible through the Alternative Rite of Passage and Water, Sanitation Hygiene (ARPWASH) Project – a three year project designed to improve sexual reproductive health services and rights among adolescents and women of reproductive age in Kajiado County through integrated ARP and WASH interventions. Access to water is used as an entry point to address female genital mutilation and sanitation issues.
The borehole installed by the ARPWASH project means that girls will now focus on their schooling and women spend less time fetching water and concentrate on other development activities. The water project serves and reaches 5,000 people, this has improved their sanitation and reduces risks of water-borne diseases.
“Though we pay for the water, my family and I can drink clean water and the distance to the borehole is now manageable,” says Teresia with a smile.
Access to safe water has changed the lives of the community of Lenkisim and brought a sense of peace and happiness. The girls can now go to school instead of spending long hours in search of water. The families can now spend less money on treatment of sanitation related diseases which saves them money and economic opportunities they have been missing like investing in farming.
Amref Health Africa in Kenya through its Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Neglected Tropical Disease (WASH and NTDs) programme is committed to make safe and affordable drinking water, hygiene and sanitation a reality for all. As is the case for the people of Lenkisim through the ARPWASH project, Amref seeks to expand its models for two-way integration of WASH into health and non-health programmes including nutrition, reproductive, maternal, new-born and child health.