APHIAplus IMARISHA WASH project works towards improving ease of access to safe drinking water to marginalised communities in NAL. The project does this by protecting shallow wells; drilling and rehabilitating boreholes and water pipeline extensions; constructing community water collection points; and also promoting positive hygiene behaviour change. In Samburu County, the project covers Longewan, Kisima, Wamba, Baragoi and Loicus locations.
Ngeriyoi village in Longewan, Lolmolok location, is approximately 22km west of Maralal town. Community members, especially women and girls, walk more than two kilometers to fetch water from open dams. Fetching the water takes about five hours daily with a maximum of 20 litres of water used per day in every household. Water is seldom enough for household chores, except for drinking. Due to this, there are many diarrhoeal cases in the area as hygiene promoting activities, such as hands and face washing for children, is seriously compromised. In 2014, there were 47, 29 and 19 child diarrhoeal cases in the months of February, April and December respectively.
In May 2015, APHIAplus IMARISHA and GoK-MoH staff visited Ngeriyoi village and were astonished by the extent of contamination of the dams. People and animals literally walked right into the dams to fetch and drink water. The colour of the water appeared to be greenish-yellow, indicating serious contamination from human and animal wastes. For scientific confirmation, the team collected water samples and analysed them for bacterial contamination. The result was equally astonishing with a heavy presence of E. coli, a definite indicator of feacal contamination.
“How have we been surviving with all this dirt in our only drinking water source? It’s only by the grace of God!” Mzee Isaiah Leakono, a village elder wonders in shock after learning of the level of contamination of the dam.
The determination of people like Mzee Isaiah Leakono led to the community participation in improving and protecting the shallow well. They were able to put up a fence around the well, in order to keep small children and animals off it.
The project encouraged the people of the village to form an 11 member water management committee (6 men; 5 women) to oversee day to day management, operations and maintenance of the shallow well. For purposes of maintenance, the villages are charged a monthly fee of Ksh 20.
As a result, 290 households, which hold 1,960 people, including 100 ECD and 280 primary school children, now have access to clean and safe water. In turn, there are fewer cases of diarrhoea and other WASH related diseases.
Ngutas Lepere, a resident of Ngeriyoi village has also benefitted greatly from the intervention. “Before, the water was so dirty and brown. We couldn’t even use tea leaves because it would not have made any difference. Now, it is clean and clear. We are very grateful,” she says with a broad smile on her face.