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Plan rehabilitates water reservoirs to guarantee access

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Girls collect water from a muddy watering hole. People share the few remaining dirty water sources with animals who often defecate in the water after drinking.

In sub-Saharan Africa, access to clean water for both human and livestock consumption is a mirage to many communities. Unsustainable use of water resources continue to impact on communities negatively, building a compelling case for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to guarantee supply of clean water.

In Kenya’s Eastern province, watering points set up years ago are the only source of water especially during the dry season for home use and for livestock consumption but are increasingly becoming under threat from human activities.

Other than the long distances the community members travel to access the precious commodity, poor handling and management of watering points requires a quick intervention from concerned authorities and other community-based organisations.

As part of emergency drought program, Plan Kenya has initiated a project aimed at rehabilitating several water reservoirs in Eastern Province to make them sustainable sources of water for community development.

An important spring that supply water to Kyoani reservoir is one such facility where you can hardly miss big numbers of community members waiting in turns to draw water, for both their domestic duties and for the livestock tethered nearby.

The sacrifice

From as early as 5.00 am, parents and their children commence the early vigil at the watering point, forming long queues of jerricans in assorted colours. Its only the early risers who are assured that they will get some water.

“Unless you get here early enough you may well not find any water left,” offers Regina Musee who has braved the morning chill to wait for her turn to draw water and is now rushing to beat the scorching sun rays.

Increasingly, the water problem is turning out to be the reason behind the low school attendance in the area since the children have a responsibility to fetch water or attend to the livestock water needs before they report to school.

For 11 year-old Musyoka Nzangai who has skipped school this morning to fetch water at the spring, the sight of a calf struggling to pull out of the mud will not bother him. He has witnessed so many such cases and will not bother to lend a hand. He is also in the company of a donkey to carry home four jerricans of water for the household use.

“Mum took my younger sister to the clinic. There was nobody else to bring the cows here and get the day’s water, so I had to come; but I’ll go back to school at lunch time,” Musyoka said.

Other than Musyoka, his classmate and friend Mwanza Mulinge has also been waiting patiently since 5.30 am and is pleased that he is next in turn.

Musyoka and Mulinge are not isolated. Many children in the community wake up early to fetch water before they can go to school.

While it puzzles how children are left to do such chores at the expense of their education, Regina notes that since water is critical to family livelihoods, there are times when there is nobody to get it and the children are left with no option but to step in and ensure water access.

Read about Plan's East Africa drought response

Learn more about our work in Kenya