Thanks to self-help projects backed by NGOs: borehole and other solutions in Kenya (IPS)

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Walking Metres Rather Than Kilometres to Fetch Water

By Protus Onyango

NAIROBI, Jan 3, 2012 (IPS) – The acute lack of water in Kenya means families have to trek long distances every day to fetch water. In both rural and urban areas, people often walk as far as 30 kilometres or more to collect water from rivers, streams or wells. But thanks to self-help projects backed by NGOs, some communities are coming up with solutions.

Over 80 percent of the country’s population of 40 million has no access to clean water, according to the World Water Organisation.

Those who live in dry northern or eastern regions and parts of the Rift Valley spend days in search of water for domestic use and for their livestock, their economic mainstay. Fighting and quarrels at water points are rampant as women, men, children and animals battle for the little water available. And women who stay out late fetching water risk getting raped.

“Lack of water in Kenya is associated with the high mortality rate among children under five years old, which is primarily due to waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria, and amoebic dysentery. Contamination from human and livestock waste also causes water-related diseases,” Dr. Joram Mwangi at Eldoret’s Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital told IPS.

A majority of Kenyans have to cling to the little they have for cooking, and forego other things like washing. “Bathing and washing are a problem. We go even for three days without having a shower, because water is expensive. In fact, more expensive than food,” Gaudensia Achieng from Kondele village, outside of Kisumu city on the shores of lake Victoria, told IPS.

Ironically, Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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