Environmental Conservation:Provide Pure Water & Fresh Food…
THE IKUMA-KITUIUNI WATER PROJECT:
The Project’s main objectives were, to:-
1. Provide clean, safe water for irrigation, domestic & livestock consumption
2. Harness local resources for socio-economic development
3.Mitigate against the harmful effects of climate change that have created food insecurity
i. The project is up and running and is at least, currently serving 5 institutions (Mbuini Dispensary and staff quarters, Mutanda Primary School, Kituiuni Primary School, AIC Mutangani, Kituiuni Catholic Church); 9 households and 12 village-hoods with a the population of 2000 people (Kyangala, Mutanda, Kyangele, Kalimanduyu, Mbuini/Kituiuni, Nzeeni, Kaliani, Kathome, Kyakathele, Kyevia, and Mutangani – with more participants expected to bar Water Shortage due to Climate.
ii. Implementation has been carried out in 3 major phases, totaling to KES 2.3 million. Phase One- Piping from the source to the collection tank site, totaling KES 300,000 Phase Two: Piping from the tank to Mutangani and construction of 30 feet, diameter water tank, Totaling KES 1.2 million Phase three: piping from collection tank to Mbuini village, costing KES 800,000
iii. The water is not treated as there lacks a treatment tank, and the fact that the project is not earning income hinders any activities requiring recurrent expenditure.
iv. Maintenance work is carried out by volunteers from the community, mainly under the direction of the project management committee and expenses footed out-of-own-pocket from the households who have been connected to the water supply grid.
v. The water project is not formally registered with the relevant ministry (water, environment and natural resources) as it lacks some key documents such as a PIN number issued by the Kenya Revenue Authority. However, Mr. Mutheke, the Water Project management chair is actively following up this matter with the relevant ministry and anticipates gaining registration of a water users association before April 2014. If the
project gets legal registration as a water users association, this means it can be able to collect revenue by water vending and thus achieve self-sustenance
vi. Water use is mainly domestic (cooking, washing and watering livestock) no evidence of economic agricultural use of water. However, there are parallel water connections which are used for some small-scale irrigation, an indication of an underlying economic potential to the project.
vii. The project management committee is drawn from community members with a wealth of experience and other capacities of community volunteer work and is mostly aged over 40 years. This has enhanced accountability and acceptance by the community.
viii. Over 80% of the water consumers do not have water storage facilities. This means that they can access the water only when it is flowing through the pipes.
ix. The project enjoys community support, as evidenced by their contribution in way of granting way leaves to lay pipes, and donating land for construction of water tanks. However, vandalism of water pipes by a section of disgruntled residents was rife and an issue of concern to water users.
Project committee members and the local administration have embarked on a community sensitization initiative to help identify vandals and take necessary legal implementation action. They have also listed provision of water vending kiosks as a possible solution to this menace.
x. The water source (catchment) is threatened by the presence of blue gum trees which have been proven to cause lowering of water tables by their over consumption of water. A mature tree, according to experts, could hold as much as 500 liters of water.
Through efforts by Kituiuni Rescue Youth Group, a sister organization, led by KUSARD’s late Michael Mulili, over 10,000 water-friendly tree seedlings have been distributed and re-planted in a re-a forestation endeavor.
xi. The water source has the potential to harness more water if well protected and preserved, as it is the only successful community water project in Kituiuni and its environs. The majority of community members interviewed expressed willingness to be connected to the water supply system; and/or buy water from kiosks.
xii. There are financial constraints to the project as it does not generate its own revenue. This leads to the wastage of water when pipe breakages occur; as water users try to raise funds needed to undertake the repairs.
xiii. Delayed funding of project phases has also slowed down progress, as the organization cannot actively fundraise in Kenya in its current form, owing to its non-formal nature.
xiv. As there is high demand for freshwater supply in a timely and convenient manner, water vending kiosks, as suggested by the community, will make this possible; and also provide job opportunities to area residents.
xv. Residents, particularly women and children, spend an average of 2 hours each day fetching water from far-off rapidly depleting wells. This has a serious gender and equity implication. If supply is scaled up, then it means this gender disparity gap will be addressed effectively.
xvi. Overhead Costs have been greatly minimized as the water supply is by gravity flow.
xvii. The Fish Pond Project, an affiliate of the water project, was meant to entrench fish farming in the area to supplement protein diet and enhance farmers’ incomes. However, it has not been as successful due to a number of challenges namely: difficulty in accessing fish feeds; lack of timely technical support; lack of steady supply of clean freshwater; and pond leakages due to substandard dam liner materials. The ministry of fisheries (now in
Agriculture, livestock & fisheries), in partnership with the constituency development fund (CDF) had embarked on an ambitious project to ensure fish farming is practiced in every constituency, but the project has been largely unsuccessful due to the factors named above. Kituiuni Primary School currently has one large fish pond. Occasionally the fish are harvested and sold locally, providing the school some income to attend to pressing
xviii. The first batch of seeds comprising of Sun Flower and Quinoa seeds donated from the USA to experiment on local soil had mixed results. The Sun Flower didn’t do as well but this could have been attributed to lack of sufficient manure while the Quinoa seeds actually did far much better and the experiment is being expanded using seeds harvested from the plants themselves. Hence, this second variety of seed has proved to
have the potential for wide-scale growing as a cash-crop and a food source in the area.
xix. Respondents who benefit from the water project agree that the project has enhanced their access to water, thereby saving them time to engage in other activities such as farm duties, or tend to their small businesses. This is an important milestone especially for the women and children, since the role of fetching water traditionally, is a chore tasked to women and children. Travel time to the well has been shortened from an average of 90 minutes to 30 minutes.
Conclusion: Although objective number 1, 2 and 3 of this project have been unmet, the initiative has worked out well as a model of private community approach to seeking solutions to community problems. It is evident that, for the 3 objectives to be met, the funding and technical input required would be much higher than initially anticipated.
Achieving sustainability and ecological sense form an essential part of water resources interventions. There is a clear felt-need in the community that, providing water not just for domestic use, but also for irrigation would be a key to booster to the community’s economic well-being including the achievement of food security.