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As the mission brief summarized, the 3 most urgent consequences of the water crisis are water-related disease and death, lost time and potential and wasted resources. Clearly then when addressing water issues, one needs to look not only at access to clean water but also issues of proximity to the water source as well as sanitation. This is an area that AMREF has been working on and perhaps I am (just a tad) biased in choosing AMREFs Kajiado Shallow Wells Project as my awe-inspiring clean water project.
The Maasai of Kenya live in Kajiado. As they are pastoralists, water is of major importance to their Maasai way of life but low rainfall occasioned by prolonged periods of drought has made it increasingly difficult to rear livestock for sale. The available natural water sources are few and far between; women and girls who are traditionally charged with the role of collecting water often have to walk long distances daily. Many of these water points are unprotected and are often shared with goats, cows and wild animals, which pose a health risk to the people.
The Kajiado Shallow Wells Project aims to reduce the spread of water and sanitation related diseases through providing access to clean and safe water and good sanitation practices. It also aims to improve the livelihoods of the beneficiary communities by ensuring that they have enough water for their cattle as well as access to information about other health challenges such as trachoma, diahorrea, and malaria.
The project implemented together with the community members uses locally sourced and cost effective materials to enable the communities to replicate the projects elsewhere. The project started in 2006. Today, water points are within 2 kilometres from households in the targeted area, there is increased school attendance by girls who no longer have to walk long distances for water, there is increased household income as a result of using water for income generating activities and increased access to safe and adequate water and sanitation has resulted in a significant reduction of related diseases.