, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – Water could easily be described as an endangered commodity in Kenya. What with the frequent rain failures, wanton depletion of catchment areas, almost zero knowledge of harvesting methods and a very poor, if any, policy framework from the government.
Major urban centres like Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu have on several occasions faced an acute water shortage, sometimes hitting crisis proportions.
Very little is known of the remote areas.
Capital News visited Kenya’s Transmara District, famed for playing host to the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
However, the plight of the local residents has almost never been a bother to anyone. They are often forced to walk for over 10 kilometers in search of water mostly in the crocodile-infested Mara River.
Seriani (not her real name) is a 23-year-old mother of eight.
She says, “I used to walk for three hours to get a 20-litre jerican of water. I had to make three trips to fetch sufficient water for the family.”
Others had to dig boreholes which they shared with their livestock.
This exposed them to water-borne diseases such as amoeba, diarrhea, and dysentery.
One of the Maasai leaders said, “to get someone to hospital, we have to hire a taxi which costs around Sh10,000. The treatment costs about Sh1,500 in a private hospital and Sh500 in a public hospital.”
The water crisis has also been a threat to education with many children dropping out to help their parents make the long, risky trips in search of water.
Teachers were not spared either – they missed school or reported late.
However, thanks to the Mara Siria Camp and the German Government a joint water supply and solar project was established to support the camp as well as the local community.
It has been a long search for clean water. Mara Siria Camp Director Joachim Pfeffer says, “initially we drilled boreholes without success;, we focused on water harvesting but due to unreliable rain patterns the project was also unsuccessful.”
Mr Pfeffer is now all smiles. He has enough clean water to run the camp as well as provide it to the local community.
At a cost of Sh15 million, a water pumping system was introduced to get water from Saparingo stream.
Mara River was not a choice as the partners were keen not to overexploit it since it is a source for most of the hotels in the area.
The local community can now get clean water at three water points located at central areas. Mara Siria distributes 1000 litres of water at a cost of Sh600.
The water committees then sell this water to the local community at approximately Sh1 per litre.
Seriani says, “Since this water was brought here, I don’t have to take nine hours to get three jericans of water, I only need a few minutes. I have now started a small kiosk and I also have time to take care of my children.”
The only school in Kirundu Division is also a beneficiary of a free water point. School enrolment has increased and minimized the rate of drop outs.
Due to the solar energy, teachers also live within the school compound and spend more time with students.
Denis Konchella, a standard eight pupil resumed his classes after the water point was opened. He doesn’t have to walk for 20 kilometers to fetch water since his mother can now access it from the school free of charge.
He expects to do well and go to a good secondary school.