Water Kiosk Brings Relief to Drought-Stricken Community
The community of Methouvini in Kanthuni Location, located in the semi-arid region of southern Kenya, has been facing severe water scarcity for many years. The area receives less than 500 mm of rainfall annually, and their water sources are Kyakwasi seasonal river which dries up during the dry seasons and river Athi which is highly polluted with the Nairobi city industrial effluence. The nearest reliable water source is a community borehole drilled by the county government at Kamuithi market center that is 10 kilometers away from the village, and the villagers have to walk for hours to fetch water for their domestic and livestock needs. The water is piped by the county government of Makueni to Kanyonga primary and secondary school passing along the main feeder road which is 4 kilometers from the village. The lack of access to safe and affordable water has negatively affected the health, education, livelihoods, and dignity of the community members, especially women and children who bear the burden of water collection.
In 2021-2024 Integrated food security project proposal, the project management committee (PMC) proposed a 5-kilometer piping of the water passing along the feeder road at Kwakasyuki market center to Methouvini with a public kiosk as a sustainable solution to the water problem. The project involved the laying of pipes to Methouvini center and construction of a water kiosk with a storage plastic tank with a capacity of 10,000 liters, two taps for dispensing water, and a meter for recording water sales since the water flow with gravity after being pumped by a solar powered pump to a reservoir tank at Kamuithi Center. The project also included the formation of a water committee that would manage and operate the kiosk, collect revenue, and ensure proper maintenance and hygiene. The water committee consisted of eight members (four men and four women) who were elected by the community and give reports on monthly basis to the PMC. The project also provided training and capacity building for the water committee members on topics such as financial management, record keeping, customer service, and sanitation.
The water kiosk was completed and inaugurated in March 2022, and since then it has been providing safe and reliable water to the community of Methouvini village. The kiosk sells water at 7 Kenyan shillings (0.04438 EURO) per 40 liters of water, which is affordable for most of the villagers. The kiosk operates from 6 am to 6 pm every day, and serves an average of 300 customers per day. The kiosk has reduced the distance and time spent on fetching water from 10 km to less than 1 km, and from 4 hours to 15 minutes. The kiosk has also improved the quality and quantity of water available for the community, as the water from the aquifer is clean and sufficient for their needs. The kiosk has generated positive impacts on various aspects of the community’s well-being, such as:
Health: The kiosk has reduced the incidence of waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, and cholera, as well as skin infections and eye problems caused by contaminated water. The kiosk has also improved the hygiene and sanitation practices of the community, as they have access to enough water for washing, bathing, and cleaning.
Education: The kiosk has increased the school attendance and performance of children, especially girls, who no longer have to miss classes or drop out due to water collection duties.
Livelihoods: The kiosk has increased the income and productivity of the community members, especially women, who can now engage in income-generating activities such as vegetable gardening, poultry farming, or petty trading instead of spending hours on fetching water. The kiosk has also enabled the community to diversify their livelihoods by providing water for irrigation, livestock watering, and fish farming.
Dignity: The kiosk has restored the dignity and empowerment of the community members, especially women, who no longer have to endure long walks, heavy loads, or harassment while fetching water. The kiosk has also increased the participation and decision-making power of women in the water committee and in their households and communities.