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Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

LOOKING AT MDGs

ISSUE 101, September 1-30, 2014

County seeks to ensure MDG seven is achieved By Robert Nyagah Accessing water for domestic use has been found to be the biggest time consuming action for women and girls taking up to 14 hours per day. However, Embu County has strived to make the essential commodity available and hence reduce the time that women and girls have to spend searching for it from wells, boreholes, rivers and other sources. A survey done in Embu County government’s departments of social services and education reveals that availability of piped water at domestic level or kiosks closer to the homesteads eases access and helps women and children to spare time for other productive work. Children and especially the girl child has more time to study and is less exposed to social evils related to being outside alone or at times late in the evening.  Most mothers are able to undertake cooking in time, make their homesteads clean and also spare time for more productive and profitable chores. Lucy Rwamba, an official of the Kiamuringa Women’s Group and a mother of four, who include two daughters in upper primary, agrees: “Since we started receiving water at homestead level or closer home, our daughters are now safer from wicked boys and men who might want to prey on them by enticing them to social evil.” She adds: “The girls no longer get late trying to fetch water from the community wells and boreholes where queues are long and extend in to the nights.” Rwamba, a recent beneficiary of the water supply from Embu Water and Sanitation Company (EWASCO) says that in an indirect way the mere supply of water at homestead level has meant improved sanitation. “With water available, it becomes outrightly easy for me to ensure that cleanliness is maintained right from the kitchen to the ablution facilities,” says Rwamba. She adds: “Hand washing and bathing are done with ease unlike when there was no piped water and when a 20-litre jerri can of water would be used for a day covering cooking and washing among other demands.”

Water Supply

Just three kilometres from Embu town families would be forced to traverse bushes to get to Gatondo well for water. The struggle and distance to be covered would see children, some as young as six years being forced to help in fetching the precious commodity. However, things have changed for the better for Gatondo residents who are now connected to the main water pipe. This is in line with Millennium Development Goal number Seven that seeks to ensure environmental sustainability. One of its targets is to halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. The world has met the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water, five years ahead of schedule. And this is where the people of Gatondo fall. “We paid a deposit of KSh2,000 to be connected to the main water pipeline and for some time now, we have enjoyed good supply of clean water,” says Jane Njue. A larger number of families in the outskirts of Embu town and even further away are today enjoying piped water thanks to major campaigns by Embu Water and Sanitation Company (EWASCO) to ensure that the people of Embu County are supplied with clean water. However, the supply did not come without major sacrifices. The water company spent KSh2.7 billion to improve water quality and supply in the County. According to Doris Njiru, finance manager at EWASCO, part of the money came to the firm in form of donations and grants while private and government agencies partnered with the water provider to complete

A man on a motor cycle transports 100 litres of water in 20 litre plastic containers to a homestead from an open pond in Dallas area in Embu town before Ewasco expanded water supply to the area. Embu residents queuing for water at a vendor’s kiosk. Photo: Robert Nyagah a cross-section of public and community water supply projects. Key among those who supported provision of this precious commodity is the government of Japan through the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA). The development agency granted the firm KSh2.4 billion towards the improvement of Mukango Water Treatment Plant “We salute JICA for the support both in cash and in kind of KSh2.5 billion and laying of the pipeline as well as non-revenue training, equipment and donation of a lorry towards this project,” said Njiru. The completion of Mukango Water Treatment Plant, was not only a milestone given that it is perhaps one of the most modern and efficient   in the country but it led to improved water production from 11,000 cubic metres to 23,000 cubic metres per day.

Trust Fund

According to Njiru, Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF) spent more than KSh77 million in three major projects with the highest beneficiary being the Blue Valley water supply rehabilitation project which cost KSh18 million. The Water Services Trust Fund also funded the rehabilitation of the Murinduko pipeline under the fifth call roll out funding at a cost of KSh6.5 million. Itabua and Dallas water projects benefited from Water Services Trust Fund amounting to KSh30 million covering more than 33 kilometre pipelines and two water kiosks for each region respectively. The ultra modern Kiritiri sanitation block cost KSh6.1 million and is presently managed as an income generating project under the Kiritiri South Boda Boda Self-help Group. Njiru noted that various ministries supported EWASCO with pipes for various projects and other equipment apart from entrusting it with the responsibility to implement water supply related projects. Key public agencies which entrusted the water company with task for the implementation of projects included the Kanyuambora Con-

stituency Development Fund (CDF) which accomplished Kanyuambora Water Project. Lenny Kivuti, the then Constituency Development Fund patron strengthened the implementation of the water project by encouraging assistance from the Kenya Wildlife Service and KenGen with both state corporations donating pipes for the project. The government water department offered support through the laying of the pipeline in Mbeere District area apart from providing funding, pipes and labour for various projects. According to Njiru, the Embu Water Department supported in laying of pipes for the sewer line from Government Training Institute (GTI) and donated a motor cycle to be used in ensuring sampling of water was accomplished. Sadly vandalism and theft of equipment has been rampant and the technical manager has petitioned the provincial administration to help the company in containing the problem, and at the same time urged the public to help in reporting the culprits to the authorities. “Members of the public who are the beneficiaries of our services would also be of great help by reporting to our offices if they witnessed vandals involved in illegal connection and tampering with the water meters” said Njiru. A report from World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that improved sanitation has

a positive impact on economic growth and poverty reduction. The WHO report explained that every dollar spent in elevating levels of sanitation generates an average economic benefit against a background where more deaths have been recorded in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else because of water-borne diseases. It is estimated that 37 percent of people have access to basic sanitation compared to the global average of 59 percent. Today, clean piped water is being tapped from Rupingazi River on the slopes of Mt Kenya.  According to Hamilton Karugendo, Chief Executive officer EWASCO the households are not the only ones enjoying the water supply. He notes that hospitals and schools are also beneficiaries of the clean water, something thatseemed like a pipe dream a few years ago. Karugendo announced plans to establish a water bottling company, which will help in creating employment among the residents. “Financial contribution by JICA to the project led to achievement of many milestones in Embu and I am glad that it is one of the towns enjoying  a steady supply of clean piped water supply to residents,” said the CEO.

Reject Online Issue 101  

The Reject Online is a monthly publication of the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman & Child Feature Service

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