In November 2012, work began in Syumbe Village to construct a rock catchment project, implemented by Just a Drop’s local partner Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) and sponsored by TUI Travel PLC. The project has helped to reduce the time the people – especially the women and children – from Syumbe Village spend walking long distances in search of safe water. Before the project they were spending 8-12 hours a day collecting water. This means they will now have more time for education or working in the fields.
In addition, the area suffers from extreme dry periods so irrigation of food groups and vegetable growing activities were limited before and food security was low. The amount of water now available to use for crops or vegetable growing – coupled with more time to tend to crops – will result in the community being in a better position to increase their own food security.
The project work
The local community was involved right from the outset to ensure the long term sustainability of the project. It was essential that they committed to participate fully in the project from agreeing to the concept through to final ownership and management. Research shows when a community is involved like this it has a huge impact on their sense of ownership of the project, and therefore on how they care for and maintain the facilities in the long term.
The project site was chosen by the community and the suitability of the proposed site was endorsed by Just a Drop and ASDF. Once the project was underway the locals volunteered their labour and materials (sand, stones and water). Their contribution was no mean feat, the poor state of the roads and the steep terrain of the project area meant that water and sand had to be carried 4km on the backs of the community members up a very steep slope.
Heavy rains fell as the digging of the storage tank’s foundations began. The community guarding the collected materials at night and during the day they helped to construct the guttering system and the first of the two storage tanks. As the rains subsided and harvest time began many of the workers had to leave the site to attend to their farms. With the risk of construction of the second tank coming to a halt, 120 members of different Self Help Groups turned out to support the Muuo Wa Syumbe group.
The second tank was constructed and finally the plumbing was underway to carry water into the storage tanks and kiosk. The distance the community now have to travel to collect water is less than 600m compared to up to 9km before the project. Now they will only spend half an hour to collect water compared to 8-12 hours before the new facility. The community will also have more free time to engage in other income generating activities.
The Muuo Wa Syumbe Self Help Group members have elected a committee who are responsible for the on-going maintenance of the facility. The duties include: cleaning of the tanks just before the onset of the rainy season; ensuring that debris is removed from the guttering system before the rainy season; and regular meter reading and maintenance of the piping system.
Currently the group has not started to sell the water as the water that had been harvested in the first tanks was used for construction of the second tank and the water kiosk.
Once the tanks are full again the community plan to sell the water at 2 Kenyan shillings per 20 litre container (about 1p). This is the standard rate as per government regulations. The community members, together with the committee agreed that the fees collected would be banked into the community’s bank account from where the money can be withdrawn if a need arises for repair or maintenance. Again research has shown that this is the most sustainable approach to the long term operation and maintenance of a project.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) training will be provided by the ASDF field staff on the ground. This training will aim to promote behavioural change in the community through motivation, information and education, which will have an impact on incidences of sanitation related diseases.
Rose Wanza, age 32, mother of four: “Going to Kwa Kanangi springs used to take me 30 minutes, but coming back was the problem – walking up the steep slope with heavy jerry cans… The situation worsened in the dry season, as I then had to go further, to the Ndituni springs. I was unable to carry out any other activities. What’s more, carrying the water made me very tired.
The water was not enough for my domestic purposes, so I had to wash and dry our clothes at the springs. My children had to help me collect more water after school, and sometimes we wouldn’t get home until after 9pm. This left little time for them to do their homework.
The rock catchment tank is just 10 minutes walk from where we live – what a difference it will make!”
Elizabeth Mutundu, age 65, mother of three: “I used to have eight cows, but I had to sell six of them because it was too expensive to buy water for them. With the availability of water from the rock catchment, (in fact, the tank borders the edge of my land), I can now spend the time I have saved to increase my farm produce again. I will never again have sleepless nights. “Kiwu nikyo mweene musyi. Na musyi ute kiwu uti muuo…”. ‘Water is the owner of the home and a home without water has no peace’.
Susanna Wayua: “I have been a slave of typhoid many times from drinking contaminated water. My hospital card proves this! It was a great burden for me to have to travel to the hospital for treatment. Sometimes they even had to give me credit.
I am sure this will be a thing of the past now that we have clean drinking water from the rock catchment. My health will improve – especially when I start eating green vegetables and drinking clean water.”
Our sincere thanks to TUI Travel PLC for making this project possible.
Project Date: July 2013
Beneficiaries: approx 6,000