Reducing fluoride levels through a unique partnership in Nairobi County

U.S. Under Secretary for Commerce  Gil Kaplan launches a water treatment facility at the Little Sisters of St. Francis in Kasarani. The facility installed will remove dangerous naturally occurring levels of fluoride in the area’s drinking water supplyFluoride is a complicated mineral, with the ability to help or hinder human health. Small amounts of fluoride in drinking water can help strengthen teeth and bones. But consuming too much fluoride can lead to severe health complications, such as dental decay, brittle and deformed bones, developmental delays in children, kidney failure and more.

Unfortunately, Nairobi and Kenya’s Great Rift Valley contain some with the highest naturally-occurring levels of fluoride in the world. As a result, nearly 20 million Kenyans ingest toxic levels of the mineral and suffer the effects of high fluoride concentrations in their groundwater.

But thanks to a unique partnership between USAID KIWASH and The Dow Chemical Company (DOW), and in collaboration with the Little Sisters of St. Francis (LSOSF), one community in Nairobi County has reason to hope.

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With good planning, water companies can prosper

Children accompany their parents to collect water from a newly installed water point. What do you get when you mix a company with a small customer base, low revenues, a leaky and costly supply chain and a lack of funding? Usually, this is a recipe for the end to any enterprise. But in Kenya, this is too often what water utilities face on a daily basis.

KIWASH is working with these companies to try to reverse this pattern and turn water utilities into growing, prosperous companies. One of the most important tools we use is the strategic plan. While this may not sound very exciting, the process of developing these plans can be transformative for a water service provider.

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With solar power, a community in Makueni can now access water affordably and reliably

Photograph of a group of people gathering outsideProlonged droughts have always affected the output of hydropower plants in Kenya, forcing the Kenya Power Company to supplement it with diesel, a more expensive alternative. When this happens, it means that some communities that depend entirely on power from the main grid to pump water have to cope with expensive bills, or risk disconnection.

However, this is no longer the case for the Makutano-Sinai community in Makueni County. In June, KIWASH installed 44 solar panels and a new hybrid water pump that runs on both solar and conventional power from the grid.

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Siaya County Declared Open Defecation Free (ODF)

Carolyne Juma from Siaya County washes her hands after visiting the toilet. Her family benefited from messages from KIWASH on latrine use and construction, safe water use, hand washing at four critical times and the general cleanliness of the environment.In 2016, Carolyne Juma and her family in Bondo Sub County, Siaya County did not have a toilet. Their only option was to defecate in bushes, open fields, or near a river. Given that the locations often changed, they did not have a fixed place to wash their hands. This led to Carolyne’s family suffering often from multiple waterborne diseases, including diarrhea, typhoid and cholera. Carolyne’s family was not the only one.

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Planting water security in Busia County

KIWASH has supported the planting of 29,400 trees as part of spring catchment, wetland and forest rehabilitation.Busia is one of the least forested counties in Kenya despite receiving substantial amounts of rainfall. According to the National Environmental Complaints Committee, (a body charged with the task of investigating complaints regarding the condition of the environment in Kenya and suspected cases of environmental degradation) deforestation and sand harvesting have led to environmental degradation in the county. This is why KIWASH is collaborating with Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs), communities, county governments and water service providers to increase the forest cover and conserve spring catchments.

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Kakamega County: Engaging WASH partners for long term WASH planning

kakamegawashKIWASH, together with the Kakamega County Government, recently convened a sector-learning workshop entitled Social Accountability for Improved Access to WASH. The workshop aimed at promoting social responsiveness, planning and coordination among the state and non-state actors in the county for effective and sustainable water and sanitation services.

The workshop highlighted social accountability as critical to the achievement of the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which targets universal access to clean water and sanitation by 2030. Social accountability involves engaging communities in decision-making and resource allocation. This, in turn,  contributes to projects that are useful for the community and sustainable over the long term.

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Education + hygiene kits increase antenatal care attendance

education & hygeineAt six months pregnant, Selah Achieng had made only one antenatal clinic visit. At eighteen years of age, she never knew the importance of frequent visits until a KIWASH trained Community Health Volunteer made a visit to her home. “Since the CHV visited me, I have visited the clinic three times. I now see the importance of attending clinic because I have learned a lot about staying healthy and protecting my baby from diseases spread by germs,” Selah said.

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Cheating Drought and Supporting Livelihoods

Photograph of a man walking amongst plantsIn Kangondi village in Makueni County, Boniface Ndangili is excited to learn that he can grow crops on his farm despite the drought that has hit his village. KIWASH recently installed solar panels at the borehole near Boniface’s home, supplying water to more than 17,000 people in three sub-counties in Makueni. Installation of the solar panels has cut the cost of pumping water by 60 percent and enabled small-scale entrepreneurs like Boniface to have adequate water to engage in farming, even in seasons of drought.

Boniface is a dedicated farmer. He plants vegetables and fruit trees, including bananas and water-thirsty arrowroot. He needs plenty of water to grow these crops. “We do not plant with seasons because we cannot depend on rainfall,” he said. “Instead, we are using water-saving techniques to grow our crops and fruit trees. This water project, therefore, makes all the difference.”

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Improved Irrigation Provides Huge Income Boost for Rural Farmers

Photograph of a woman harvesting cropsForty-year-old Rebeca David is one of 80 farmers from Kitui and Makueni Counties set to receive a bumper harvest of about 10,000 kilos of onions per acre of land. This is owed to the support she received from the USAID’s Kenya Integrated Water Sanitation and hygiene (KIWASH) project.

KIWASH engaged an agribusiness company, Safe Produce Solutions, to teach and equip these farmers to engage in commercial farming. Safe Product Solutions distributed certified seedlings and pesticides to the farmers. The company further installed irrigation kits, consisting of open drip irrigation hoses, 1,000-liter water storage tanks and solar water pumps, on each farm. KIWASH facilitated the purchase and installation of the irrigation equipment through a recoverable grant.

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Miracle Borehole Boosts Income, Provides Livelihoods

Photograph of someone filling a cup with water from a tapDespite their humble beginnings, the Chyulu Community-Based Organization (CBO), located in the heart of Makueni County, currently owns a solar powered borehole that supplies water to more than 5,000 households in the neighboring villages of Mbukoni, Kathiani and Mbotela. The new solar panels have cut their costs by more than 50 percent and increased distribution efficiency, boosting the group’s daily income to US $80.

This remarkable story of Chyulu CBO began in 2003 when 200 residents of Mbukoni, Kathiani and Mbotela villages came together to sink a borehole following many years of trekking nearly 10 kilometers to fetch water. All the group wanted was a water source closer to home. Little did they know they were creating a business that would become self-sustaining and a reliable source of living.

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Kiwash Blog

Image1a - Floride article
Fluoride is a complicated mineral, with the ability to help or hinder human health. Small amounts of fluoride in drinking water can help strengthen teeth...
Image 5a - planning
What do you get when you mix a company with a small customer base, low revenues, a leaky and costly supply chain and a lack...
Image1a - Floride article
Prolonged droughts have always affected the output of hydropower plants in Kenya, forcing the Kenya Power Company to supplement it with diesel, a more expensive...

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