Cheating Drought and Supporting Livelihoods

cheatingdrought.jpgIn 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.”

Michael Mutua and Eric Mwasi are also beneficiaries from the improved pumping system. The pair from Makutano-Sinai village mold concrete into fencing poles, portable slabs and culverts. According to the young men, molding concrete was a very unlikely business in that area before KIWASH improved the water pumping and distribution system. KIWASH extended the pipeline by 2.2 km. “This is our main source of income,” said Mutua as he mixed sand, cement and ballast with water before scooping it into the molding tray. “With the constant supply of water from the borehole, we earn enough money to meet our basic needs,” he adds.

According to Peter Nganda Ndolo, the chairman of the community water project, many young people in the area have benefited from small-scale income generating activities. For example, a group of 13 women now runs water kiosks and utility shops after KIWASH helped construct two additional water kiosks with 5-cubic-meter water storage tanks. “Along with selling water, I run a retail shop inside the kiosk,” said Nelius Mueni at her kiosk in Kangondi shopping center. “These are now my main sources of income,” she said.

This project is part of KIWASH’s efforts to expand water quantity and quality in Makueni County. We also providing capacity development for the staff of this enterprise and 222 others in Kenya, to help expand access to water services for at least 1 million Kenyans.

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