The larger population of homes in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to water. Women and girls have to trek barefooted my miles in search of water not minding its quality. Covering 4 to 5 Kms daily for not just one trip but several is not an easy task.
In Kididima village in Kilifi County on the coastal region of Kenya, things are thick for women and girls. Though next to one of the largest water bodies in the world: the Indian Ocean it’s ironical that families do not have access to safe water. Sarah Mwalima, is a 63-year-old woman in Kididima village, Kilifi County. She was born, raised and married in Kilifi County. Hers’ is a story of what it takes to be a girl then a woman in the village without access to water.
Sarah narrates that “ I was born in Kilifi North where I was raised then later got married in Kilifi South where I stay with my husband and children and both areas have no access to water. My whole life has been tough. While growing up every day with our mothers we would walk for mile to go fetch safe water, so all young girls in the village would do this to support their ageing mothers. Many of us ended up not accessing education, the burden of fetching water weighed most of us down, while our brothers were going to school or doing their home-work we were fetching water for the family this affected our performance and many of the young girls then dropped out of school. That is how serious lack of access to water can be.”
She further adds, “even after I got married the village where my husband was raised things were not different, there was no water. I had to join other women in the new place and started the long trips, I wasted many years of my marriage life mainly fetching water, by the time you finish fetching water in a day it is too late to do anything else. I could not support my husband to develop our home and family, because carrying a 20 litres jerrycan to the river that is 5 kilometers away and you do six trips by the time you are done you can hardly do anything else of importance. But that is life, we had to live like that. So, my husband did not afford to give our family the best life we wished to live because I could not support, so we all depended on one income for all our needs including taking our children to school.”
Sarah adds that “later early 2000 a well-wisher came and sunk a borehole in our village, that day our lives changed, the long distances were reduced drastically and we managed to save a lot of time and energy. We re-directed this energy to other meaningful activities and even started having some little extra income, this came late in our lives but as they say better late than never. My daughters had easy life in their high school, the borehole was here so they did not struggle like I did at their age, they have better education and some working, am sure without this borehole may be things would be different. But due to continuous use the borehole got damaged again at some point, community members tried to contribute and maintain n but people here are poor, so after two or so years they couldn’t afford. That day, we had to go back to our old painful days, walking for mile again to the river. It feels bad when your living standards have to be lowered again, but there was no alternative but now I was a bit old and doing the long distances to the river and back was very hectic for me, my knees could not sustain the long treks anymore.”
Sarah notes that “but in 2019, by God’s grace Co2balance came in and repaired almost all the damaged boreholes within Kilifi South, this could not have come at a better time when I could not walk that long with a 20-litre jerrycan. Now we are glad, we have peace of mind. Lack of water in any home affected girls and women a lot and having a functional source of water within reach like this is the pride of any woman. Am proud and all women in this area are proud since it is due to this borehole that we no longer climb up steep hills or over rocks with jerrycans in search of water. It is because of this borehole that we can get time to rest and engage in other income generating activities like small businesses and also socialize. The older I grow the more spiritual I become and now with this borehole here I get enough time to go to church events. I can tell you, as a woman born and raised in the village without access to water that having a place you can comfortably get your safe water for free and within manageable distance is something no one should ever take for granted, I tell you this because I know what it means since I have lived in both conditions and I have seen it all, and that is why I am telling you that this borehole here is my pride today. It is the pride of all women in this village and we thank Co2balance for this, if they have more resources, they should do this for other women out there who may be still suffering in silence. May God bless Co2balance.”