For many women in Kenya water remains a personal crisis. Majority of women and girls are overburdened by the many domestic chores assigned to them by society i.e. fetching water, collecting firewood, taking care of children etc. Women and girls spend disproportionately more time than men fetching water and firewood, farming, caring for children, the elderly and the sick, cooking, cleaning etc.
In the quest to access safe water for their families some women and girls face a lot of challenges i.e. spending hours every day traveling to unsafe water sources, waiting in line, and carrying heavy loads–often several times a day. Collecting water takes time. Women and girls are responsible for collecting water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and other household needs no matter the distance they have to walk to access the water sources.
In Seme Sub-County of Kisumu County in the larger Western Kenya region the case is not different: women and girls are equally overburdened by domestic chores including fetching water for their family’s daily use. In this Sub-County Co2balance has partnered with the County government of Kisumu to rehabilitate over 30 stalled water boreholes enabling women to access water with ease. The rehabilitated handpumps have reduced the long distances women and girls have to cover while looking for this elusive resource – water.
Last week we met a couple Amos and Rhoda. They are one of the households depending on Ami water point one of the handpumps rehabilitated by Co2balance earlier this year. Amos and Rhoda have five children living with them in the rural areas of Western Kenya. Previously they used to fetch water from Lake Victoria, which was 5 kilometers away, a distance Rhoda has to cover several times every day to collect water for her households’ use. The water was not safe so she has to spend more time collecting firewood to boil the same water to purify it for human consumption. Rhoda says that today after repairing the stalled borehole in her neighbored she only covers 120 meters to access the water borehole and also the water is safe. This has reduced the distance she has to cover daily going to collect water and also the time needed to collect firewood for boiling the water.
Speaking to Rhoda, she says “access to clean water within our village has made our work as women very easy. Previously my husband could not help in collecting water as he cannot carry a jerrican for over 5 kilometers as other women watch him but now that the borehole is here, he helps a lot in pumping and carrying the water home as I do other tasks at home. Rhoda says now with their freed time and reduced domestic chore burden women can now start small businesses, adding to their household income. We also have the time and water to garden and cook good food for their families.”
Amos says that previously it was not possible to help with collecting water but now that Co2balance has done the repairs and handpumps are within reach men are happy to pump water for their wives and even carry it home on wheelbarrows for those that fear lifting jerricans in the community. He is glad that now their wives and daughters have enough time to rest and engage in other activities as men help.
Amos proceeds to mention that “even now I can tell you with Covid 19 all schools are closed but I can help my wife and children to collect water so that my children can continue studying from home as we wait for schools to re-open. This is good. If this borehole would not be working now then my wife and children would spend about 5 hours daily going to the lake to collect water and also fetch firewood to boil the water, this would deny my children time to study at home. So am really thankful to Co2balance. I hope they can do this to other counties so that more women suffering in other places can also be helped. “