Peace through Water
USAID Launches New Water Project
"We don’t know the worth of water till the well runs dry…..we don’t know the worth of peace--until our neighbors fight," said USAID/Kenya Mission Director Erna Kerst during the launch of the Likoni "Water-for-Peace" project in Timbwani village.
In March 2011, Members of the Likoni "Connector Project" (also called Water-for-Peace) found a suitable site for a well. The team finally hit water about 60 feet deep.
History of Timbwani Village
Timbwani village, like most Kenya Coastal communities, suffers inter-religious and inter-ethnic rivalry between indigenous coastal communities and "upcountry" communities. These tensions are exacerbated by inequities in distribution of land, water, and employment.
"How can you be crosswise with your neighbor when you chat with her at the well; when you manage a project together, when you discuss how best to use this vital water?" asked the Mission Director. She further emphasized peaceful co-existence among communities as an objective of the project in addition to providing clean water.
A community social agreement has been developed and endorsed by the Government of Kenya outlining roles of each of the parties – Coastal Inter-faith Council of Clerics (CICC), Peace structures, water committee and community water users.
The Mission Director applauded this community’s efforts of coming together to map out strategies of peace building in Likoni through this water project. There is already active physical participation of youth, women and elders from diverse ethnic and religious groups in the construction of a permanent pump structure. Other activities include clearing and site fencing.
Thanks to this communal water project, thousands of members of the semi-urban Timbwani community will have clean water plus a safe environment for continued dialogue and interaction. Their animals and a small-scale kitchen garden will also benefit from the well.
A Water Committee will manage the water, including well and pump maintenance, accountability and hygiene. A caretaker will ensure security of the water kiosk, regulate water use to avoid waste, and collect the regular community contributions toward site maintenance and community development.
USAID Water Projects in Kenya
A similar project will be emulated in Malindi, Lamu and other parts of Kenya. In Eldoret, the project is helping the community rebuild a bridge over the river, so that communities can resume trading with each other.
In Nakuru, water tanks, treatment and piping will also help reunite groups that clashed during the post-election violence.
Other USAID funded water projects in the country are Sombeza Water and Sanitation Improvement Project (SWASIP) implemented by the Aga Khan Foundation and Water Improvement Program (WIP) implemented by World Concern.