, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – For most of her 35 years, Amina has been trekking over 24 hours per trip in search of water.
Amina hails from Badana, a small village located about 250 kilometres from Isiolo Town.
The rough road to Badana is surrounded by thorny shrubs; it takes about six hours for a four-wheel drive vehicle to access the area.
The difficult terrain is made worse by high levels of insecurity that require a security escort if one is to get to Badana safely. Levels of under development are evidently clear as we drive through in a convoy escorted by armed police officers.
Donkeys carrying two 20-litre jerrycans are a common sight.
Herds of cattle, caravans of camels, flocks of sheep, goats and droves of donkeys are seen grappling to graze on every green patch they can find amid the dry vegetation. People are seen guiding the donkeys either to or from the water points that are over 50 kilometres away from their settlements.
Amina is one of the women who has spent most of her years risking her life to look for the very precious and basic yet an elusive commodity.
“We used to walk for even two days looking for water. We would get very tired, in the forest we used to meet with wild animals, they even used to attack our donkeys which were carrying water or our jerrycans,” she recalled.
At the age of 18, Sofia sat her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in 2014.
She had to repeat classes after missing school many days.
The main reason for her absenteeism was water.
“We would walk for long distances, for even 50 kilometres looking for water. We would come back very dirty we would not even shower, we were so tired sometimes we didn’t go to class,” Sofia narrated.
Sofia and Amina are however a very excited lot today.
Water has transformed their lives immeasurably. The biggest impact is especially on education for girls in the area.
Unlike Amina, her two daughters now have an opportunity to go to school without interruptions of water journeys.
They also have water to bathe during their periods and wash their clothes.
Amina explains with such an infectious smile on her face; “my two daughters now can enjoy education without interruptions. They don’t have to look for water like me.”
School enrolment around Badana has also increased.
Before the Safaricom Foundation started the Sh32 million water project, at Badana, most girls and boys stayed away from school.
While the girls were away looking for water, the boys stayed at home without food and water to bathe.
The transformation brought by water in Badana is further evident in the health records in the area.
Water borne diseases have remarkably reduced by almost 100 percent.
Being pastoralists, Badana residents are also happy because they don’t have to engage on days trips in search of water like before.
According to Safaricom Foundation Senior Manager Foundations Operations, Immaculate Otieno, the greatest achievement for the nation is improving lives of the people in need.
Water being a serious limiting factor to development, Safaricom Foundation positively satisfied the most basic need in the project that is now new hope for at least 4,000 people living in remote Badana.
“Our goal is to transform lives of communities across the country. We understand the many challenges you are currently facing here in Isiolo County,” Otieno said while addressing Badana residents gathered to celebrate official launch of the project.
Badana is now lucky to have water, but the desperation of many thousands of people in other villages spread around Isiolo town is wanting.
Young and old are still walking for kilometres day and night looking for water and pastures for their animals.
Their hope is that more well-wishers, the government and local leaders will understand their troubles of life without water.