Dry Islands No More
Fresh water was a major challenge for the residents of Lamu District. “Bellyaches were a common complaint here before these wells were dug because we took our water from the traditional wells.”
With USAID support, World Concern is working with community members on Pate Island to increase access to improved water supplies. In Kenya’s remote Lamu District, 30 wells are being constructed for the use of around 30,000 residents, 42 water storage tanks will capture rainwater to be used by around 40,000 residents, and farmers are beginning to use drip irrigation systems.
Communities have also begun to lobby the government to extend infrastructure they so desperately need, but were reluctant to request. In Lamu District, project staff organized a meeting with district representatives and the community water committees. The residents were encouraged to present an appeal for water infrastructure. The appeal and the advocacy support was a grand success. Pate Island, once without decent water supplies, is now drinking from around 30 wells. 15 were constructed under the project, and the other15 are the result of the community’s advocacy efforts.
World Concern’s model lays emphasis on empowering the benefiting communities to be responsible for making their own decisions, rather than being passive objects of choices made on their behalf.
With USAID support, the health of Pate Island is being improved by its residents, guided by technical experts. Ordinary residents are digging hand wells by hand, while artisans are learning how to assemble and repair hand pumps for the wells and how to install and construct water storage tanks to harvest rainwater. Residents are also deciding where the infrastructure is most needed and how they should be maintained.
Bakari, a smallholder farmer and village elder, who oversees one of the new water pumps, notices that the health and productivity of his village has improved. On average, villagers in Pate Island may have travelled 5 to 15 kilometers for water before this intervention began. “We have gained both time and health – making us much more productive,“ he says.