Kenya is a water-scarce country with the large majority of the population struggling to access water – leave alone safe water. Tharaka Nithi County in the Eastern region of Kenya is semi-arid with farming as the main economic activity. Within the sub-counties of Tharaka North and South many families struggle to access water for domestic use not to mention for agricultural purposes.
Within these areas there are hundreds of sunk and constructed water boreholes which were the main sources of water for the locals. Over time, majority of these water points due to wear and tear the local communities were not able to sustainably operate and maintain them, leaving most of them damaged and out of use. The local communities who depended on the damaged water points could not live minus water, because is life. Left with option the locals had to still get it from alternative sources such as rivers not minding the quality. Most of the rivers were far and locals had to trek for long to get water.
Last year, Co2balance in partnership with the County Government assessed various non-functional water boreholes and identified 70 boreholes that Co2balance has repaired and are now fully being used by the local communities. The 70 boreholes are spread across Tharaka South and North sub-counties helping locals cut down on the long distances they used to cover in search for water. In addition, Co2balance manages the water treatment process for all the 70 boreholes ensuring locals have access to safe water.
While monitoring some of the water points, we met Martin Nthiga; a middle-aged man with his two young children fetching water from Muthika water point repaired by Co2balance. Martin is married to one wife and has four children aged between 4 and 15 years old.
Talking to Martin about the borehole he says that “ to us as a community we are very thankful that Co2balance came and repaired this borehole for us, before it was repaired we used to cover 18 kilometres daily going to fetch water from a river, you cover 9 kilometres going and 9 coming back but here now it is manageable because it is close to our homes. The furthest family is about one kilometre reducing the distance massively. Minus saying it we could over almost half a marathon distance daily in search of water. Some of us who have donkeys it is better you can fetch three 20 litre jerrycans and load on a donkey, you can imagine families that do not have donkeys. Women had to carry the 20 litre jerrycan on their backs covering that distance four or five times in a day. Doing that daily can kill you. The distance was just too much, children could not even attend school well because they had to stay at home and help parents fetch water in cases where parents are aged and cannot walk that long.”
He further adds” you can imagine what would be happening now with Covid 19 minus this borehole here, how could we be washing hands, people here cannot afford sanitizers so we just wash hands with soap or ash. Minus this borehole here what would have happened to these people, and am not talking about 5 people am talking about several families and each with may be 10 people or so. When I say this borehole has really saved us from the long distances am talking from experience, Covid 19 would have finished our people minus this borehole being repaired. And there are many boreholes that have been repaired even in other villages by this Co2balance and we can only say thanks you to them. They have really helped local people here who were helpless. And even they have also trained us on how to maintain hygiene around the borehole and store our water safely in our homes, this has been very crucial during this period with Covid 19. Co2balance has really done a good job, they have done their part now it is our role as a community to implement the issues we have learnt.”