Situated on Africa’s eastern coast, Kenya is typically a very humid country with intermittent water shortages brought on by current global warming, which also causes significant drought and flooding in various regions.
The situation is getting worse due to inadequate investments in water supplies, particularly in rural areas.
Most metropolitan regions have access to tainted water, which frequently causes outbreaks of waterborne illnesses like cholera, which have impacted people’s health and livelihoods.
A food crisis is also a result of the fertile plains receiving little rainfall.
Even though the majority of people living in slums in urban regions lack access to clean water, the population in rural areas is still left without guaranteed clean water.
While access to basic sanitation has decreased by around 5% over time, more Kenyans now have access to clean water than ever before, making up about 59% of the country’s entire population.
However, according to water.org, a water and sanitation organization with operations in the country, 22 million people have no access to improved sanitation solutions, with 15 million lacking access to safe water.
According to research from around the world, access to clean water, along with proper hygiene and sanitation, might prevent up to 300,000 under-five child fatalities.
As UNICEF puts it, five million people in Kenya practice open defecation, ten million drink contaminated surface water, and just a quarter of Kenya’s population wash their hands after using the restroom.
Project’s aim, efforts
The Water Project’s major objective, a US-based non-profit organization, is to provide communities in Western Kenya with access to clean, reliable, and safe water.
To further its goal of providing dependable, clean water, the organization and the Vihiga County Government in Western Kenya signed a memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on January 20, 2023.
“The signing of the MOU represents a continuation of the strong working relationship between Vihiga County Government and The Water Project, acknowledging our joint mission to provide water access to the Vihiga communities, ensure the long-term sustainability of WASH infrastructure, and build and share knowledge among sector actors,” Emma Kelly, Program Manager at The Water Project, explained.
The Water Project, to determine the scale of the work required to improve sanitation and provide more access to clean water and the state of the water points, had mapped and identified around 16000 public and private water points before the MOU signing.
The organization seeks to impact almost all of western Kenya’s residential areas. The organization’s work has yet to be published and made public, possibly later this year.
The group, founded 16 years ago, has collaborated with local employees like Western Water and Sanitation Forum, network partners like the Timothy Foundation and local communities to improve sanitation and impact about 500,000 lives.
Nearly 1300 water projects have been proposed through their strategic relationship.
The governor of Vihiga County, Dr. Wilber Ottichilo, made it clear that water is one of his top priorities as a decision-maker and a leader and that his plans for providing citizens with clean water and decent sanitation will be carried out through partnerships.
The project focuses on starting its implementation at Hamisi sub-county in Vihiga.
The implementation is by drilling boreholes, coming up with ways to protect natural springs, improving inadequate sanitation and providing some where there is none, improving rainwater harvest, rehabilitating water wells, and promoting hygiene to communities vulnerable to disease.
The following regions are Emuhaya, Sabatia, Luanda, and Vihiga because they are key locations for the growth of the western area and are home to the majority of its population.
By providing access to clean water and sanitary facilities, the project is making a significant effort to help people reach their full potential. The project’s headquarters are in the Western Region township of Kakamega.
“We’re excited and humbled to continue to greatly deepen our commitment to the people of Western Kenya as we provide access to clean, safe and reliable water to those who today suffer needlessly without it,” said Peter Chasse, President & Founder of The Water Project.
As of 2020, with support from the Belgian government and the county government of Vihiga, the initiative intended to help at least 200,000 families by 2022 through a KSh 1.7 billion water project in the county.
The project began seven years after receiving its Vihiga charter, but four years later, just five percent of the way through an initial crackdown of up to four phases, it came to a halt because of financial difficulties.
Maseno established the first point by distributing water to the residential areas of Muhaya and Luanda sub-counties.
The next point was Kaimosi, which was designed to supply water to residents in the Hamisi Sub County.
The final stage was announced at Mbale, with water distribution to the Sabatia and Vihiga sub-counties covering the entire Western Region.
After establishing agreements with the county management, the project has placed important institutions at the forefront, paying particular attention to Kaimosi and Maseno University.
The project, which was planned to service multiple residences in Vihiga, was confirmed by Ottichilo, the current Governor of Vihiga, during his first term in office.
The initiative also intends to reduce pumping costs and protect the environment by employing solar power and renewable energy sources to move water between its stations.
To save costs, the water station first constructed a solar electricity station.
The station also contained water storage tanks that could hold a maximum of 500,000 liters.
Underground plumbing and piping has been done per the dwellings’ supply channels to make them more reliable under all conditions once production begins.
The county now hopes that when the project finalizes, every farmhouse will have piped clean water, and its citizens will not regularly need to depend on water from streams and rivers.
The county experienced numerous financial obstacles to see through a reliable and clean water provision.
The urban water coverage in Vihiga County would grow by 37% after the project is complete, reaching 50% of the county, according to the Belgian project manager Samuel Delobbe.
Adequate water consumption enhances kidney health and kidney function. Water is so crucial to human life that most Kenyan regions are exploring alternate ways to provide it to combat climate change’s consequences.
Therefore, this project ensures that every resident of the western region has access to clean water.
Even though it was simply a simple invitation for the Founder to come and see, the project is approaching its twentieth birthday in the next four years.
According to the Founder, Peter Chase, “While the people we assist may seem far away, the truth is that they are our neighbors.”
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He further exhorts audiences to attend more performances so they can decide for themselves; the stories, celebrations, and lessons are merely invitations.
Access to clean, reliable water is indeed having a positive influence on the residents.