“There are 2.2 million diarrhea deaths related to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene every year” – World Health Organization (WHO). UNESCO piloted a capacity building project on rainwater harvesting in 2012 in Mbumbuni, Makueni County, in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair on Women and Development at the University of Nairobi, the Ministry of Water, Kenya Rural Enterprise Programme and Kenya Water Board.
Kathese women’s self-help group in Mbumbuni is one of the target groups in the project and 100 women and 10 men have been trained on rain water harvesting skills as well as water management, and are currently utilizing their skills to store and provide water to their village. So far, three tanks have been built under the project to store 10,000 and 15,000 litres of water and there are further plans to build individual tanks for each family in the village. This year, the JP GEWE Output Team on Economic Empowerment accompanied UNESCO for a monitoring and evaluation visit to the project site. The visit was planned to explore ways to align the project with other activities of Participating UN Organizations (PUNOs) on economic empowerment for women’s groups and interact with members of the community for their feedback. The group was impressed with the difference made through this initiative in the lives of the community by provision of easy access to water and increase in income generation.
Kenya is a water scarce country and only 57% of the rural population has access to safe drinking water sources. The project’s goal has been to provide the communities in arid and semi-arid lands with enough water to use in their homes and for irrigation as well as create income-generating activities to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the households and reduce water-borne diseases. Collection of water is a task within communities that falls mainly on women and children, and sometimes they have to walk for hours and in uncertain conditions to access the source. The time consuming task often prevents women from pursuing income generating activities and girls from attending school. The project brings the source closer to their homes and provides these women with the skills to access, store and manage water and use the same resource to empower them with revenue generating activities that are manageable at community level. The safe water will also put an end to health related issues from water-borne diseases and provide safe drinking water to rural communities in Kenya. The project has received tremendous support from the target community and there is an increasing demand for its extension to other parts of the country.