Project: Clean Water - Household Tanks

Access to clean water is a huge problem in the Mogotio district. There are two rivers in this area, one of which is seasonal. Both rivers are used for multiple purposes; livestock drink from them, people use them for bathing, washing clothes, and as the main source of drinking water. Because of this, waterborne diseases are widespread in Mogotio. Most people suffer from diarrhea many times per month, and from typhoid or dysentery at least once a year. Treating these infections is both time-consuming (there is just one health centre in the area) and costly (due to loss of income while sick). This in turn affects the local economy.

To address this problem Development Pamoja started a clean water project with a women's group in the village of Sarambei. The group in question, Bellion Women's Group, is a group of thirteen women who run a community farm and have instigated other projects under their own initiative to better their lives. We have worked closely with this group since our inception, and in 2011 we agreed to purchase thirteen water tanks to enable them to harvest rain water, one for each member of the group. Each tank has a capacity of 3,500 litres and the primary use of these tanks is to provide these women and their families with clean drinking water.

It is our belief that we should not provide such a valuable asset for free as it leads to aid dependency. With this in mind, before purchasing the tanks each woman was asked to build a concrete stand where the tank would be positioned and they were also asked to attach gutters to their roofs to enable the harvested water to flow into the tanks. Each woman completed these tasks before the tanks were purchased. We then entered into an agreement with each woman which stated that they must pay for approximately 30% of the tank's value over a 12 month period. Each tank cost approximately €250, and each woman had to pay back €80.

The tanks were bought in June of 2011 and the women started to pay back their share in July 2011. By July 2012 these repayments were finished and the money was fed back to start another project with the group (read about this further project).

What we have seen since purchasing these tanks is a significant decrease in the incidences of waterborne diseases in these thirteen families. What it also means is that the women do not have to travel for hours to access water. The women live an average of 3km from the River Molo. This means that during the 6-months of the year that the River Rongai is dry, the women have on average a 6km round trip to access water - water that is putting their health at risk.

As well as purchasing the water tanks, we also donated Grevillea trees and fruit trees to each household. Kenya has a huge problem with deforestation at present; in the past 50 years, tree coverage has fallen from 13% to less than 2%. Most women chose to plant their trees around the water tanks in order to provide the tanks with shade from the equatorial sun. The fruit trees will eventually provide the women with an additional source of food/income.

We also held a two day seminar for the thirteen women and members of the wider community teaching them the importance of using clean water for domestic use and explaining other primary health care measures that can be used to prevent the spread of disease. Those present were also educated on various irrigation techniques that can be used on their small holdings to enable them get maximum use of the limited rainfall this area experiences on a yearly basis. This seminar was given by members of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture.