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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

Fresh, Running Water Finally Arrives in Hundreds of Homes in Koimwe Village, Kenya

Water reservoir at the Mwangaza water project site

Water reservoir at the Mwangaza water project site

Koimwe Village, in Nandi County, Kenya is among several villages that have long suffered from insufficient access to water suitable for household use. Women and girls typically had to walk long distances on a daily basis for clean water.

Geoffrey Maiyo has been working for years to bring a source of potable water to Kiomwe Village. In 2012, when he was still a university student, he led an initiative by three community groups working with the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project to implement the Mwangaza Water Project, a gravity water system to bring water from Chesumei Forest to serve about 500 households in three villages, including Koimwe. The project was designed to be implemented in three phases from 2012 to 2017. The funds were channeled through a community based organization, Kibirong’ Environmental Education and Concern Group, of which Geoffrey was a member. Pipes were laid, connecting some households to water, but the natural water spring had not been protected to the proper standards. Then part of the funds had been misused, which brought the project to a halt. Geoffrey was frustrated that the project had not benefitted the community and the water problems had only worsened. He had heard people talk about accountability concerns and poor utilization of public resources by county departments, but he was out of ideas on how to fix the problem.

That was until the USAID-funded Agile and Harmonized Assistance for Devolved Institutions (AHADI) project provided support to his community. Geoffrey was trained by an AHADI sub-grantee, Poverty Eradication Network, to become a community resource person. Through this training, he learned how to provide civic education to the local community and to mobilize citizens to participate in county governance.

Running Water.

Clean reliable water now runs right to residential compounds of 300 households

With his new skills and an understanding of how county departments are organized, Geoffrey joined with other community leaders to approach their local County Assembly member to explain the community’s lack of clean water. The County Assembly member visited Koimwe Village and saw for himself the need for action. The County Assembly member mobilized resources from the County Assembly for the provision of 500 additional water pipes. He further mobilized neighboring villages to also lay pipes until all the required pipes were in place.

While Geoffrey was glad that some progress had been made, he realized that with these pipes alone, water still could not reach people’s houses, so he then approached the Governor. Other County Assembly members also appealed to the Governor and the County allocated an additional Ksh 1.7 million to the project. With this money, a big tank was constructed to serve as a reservoir, which complemented an existing smaller tank that had been already been provided under the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project. By November 2019, 300 households had access to clean water right in their compounds.

"AHADI gave us the knowledge we needed to spring the county government into action, providing a source of water for the first time to 300 households. With our new knowledge and skills, we don’t intend to stop until all 500 households have water," noted Geoffrey.

See more of SUNY/CID's work in Kenya

Posted January 21, 2020