In Makueni County, the Chyulu Valley Water Project is a clear example of a community water business taking steps to expand water supply services through innovative ideas and commercial financing. Under the leadership of Veronica Musyoki, the project has increased its customer base from 7,000 to 20,000 in four years by constructing 11 new water kiosks and connecting 73 households and institutions to water. The company as now established a water bottling plant to boost group income and expand water access.
The company began operating in 2003. Julius Kasue, the patron and committee member at the Chyulu Valley Water Project, recalls how they were able to save consumers – particularly women and girls – a lot of time and energy looking for water when they began operations. “With a membership of 200 people, we obtained funding to drill a borehole. People were elated,” recalls Julius.
Before the borehole project, Josephine Nduku then newly married, would join other women to walk to the nearest water point ten kilometers away. They would set off before dawn and queued for hours only to get back home at six in the evening. “I would go to the river every other day to fetch a 20-liter jerrycan of water for cooking and cleaning. I remember I would use a single cup of water to clean my children, as there was not enough to bathe them. But since the Chyulu Valley water project, it takes less than 30 minutes to collect water and return home,” attests Josephine.
Veronica’s vision for the group is that all residents have access to adequate water. Veronica previously worked as chair of two other water projects. When she joined the Chyulu Valley Water Project, she immediately noted how a lack of strong leadership led to the company suffering from embezzled funds and poor infrastructure maintenance.
KIWASH partnered with Veronica and the Chyulu Valley Water Project to provide the business funding and technical support to install a solar-powered pump, a water treatment plant, and six kilometers of water pipelines. “KIWASH also installed solar panels, reducing the use of diesel generators that cost a lot of money to operate. Now we use generators only during at night to pump water to our biggest client, Kenya Pipeline Corporation, that requires 600,000 liters every day,” says Veronica. KIWASH also supported the company to expand from three to 14 water kiosks, all of which employ women attendants.
The company also has strengthened its revenue collection and now takes pride in its well-maintained project equipment and trained staff. With KIWASH’s support and business coaching, Veronica is now confident the group is ready to move to the next step. The water project obtained a commercial loan of 3.2 million, and together with an additional contribution of KES 700,000 from members of the project, has established an automatic water bottling plant named the Miracle Spring Company.
“Our mission is to end the struggle for water in the county, and we are confident that the Miracle Spring Water Bottling Company will be beneficial for many generations to come,” says Veronica. Beyond the production phase, the Chyulu Valley Water Project has put in place key marketing and distribution strategies, including inviting the county governor to launch the plant.
The nearby Masaku Water Project, also in Makueni County, is taking note and using the same tactics to expand its water services. With KIWASH support, the company has received a commercial loan of KES 1.1 million, allowing them to drill a new borehole to serve a new water bottling plant. They now seek additional funding to purchase a water bottling machine.
Together, these two water companies have expanded access to clean water in Makueni County to 5,000 people. With the establishment of the water bottling companies, potable drinking water will be available to even more customers.