Stephen Mutiso knows the value of water to students in rural schools. The managing director for Mbooni Water and Sanitation Company that serves the Mbumbuni community in semi-arid Makueni County, Mutiso insists that he would gladly incur losses to ensure there is running water in learning institutions. “Education to children means a lot to the future of our country,” noted the soft-spoken Mutiso. “And whenever there is no safe water within their reach, children become susceptible to diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, trachoma, and hepatitis. This causes them to miss lessons while they recover,” he added.
Mbooni Water and Sanitation Company’s water supply was interrupted seven months ago due to a faulty transformer. The power supply company has yet to fix it, but Mbooni Water, in collaboration with KIWASH, has gone out of its way to pump water using a diesel generator for at least two hours a day, ensuring that schools and two kiosks at Mbumbuni market center have enough water to operate.
Since 2016, KIWASH has combined training and capacity building with infrastructure investments, such as a new water pump, to help Mbooni Water operate more efficiently and reliably. In training sessions, KIWASH emphasizes business principles such as financial accountability, performance monitoring, cost recovery and demand-driven investments. The new water pump, with a capacity of pumping 37 cubic meters of water per hour, has enabled the company to continue serving a large population.
According to Naomi Mutunga, the deputy head teacher at Makutano Primary School in Makueni, female students are usually more effected whenever there is a lack of water, especially at the household level. “Girls always have the laborious task of fetching water from distant wells, with some walking as far as 15 kilometers. When this happens, they always miss classes, and thus interrupt their studies,” she said.
With KIWASH support, Mbooni Water and Sanitation Company is showing marked improvement in its ability to meet the water needs of its customers. The company is more responsive to infrastructure damage, repairing leaks and pipe bursts that lead to non-revenue water loss and disruptions in service. In the past two years, infrastructure improvements and quicker response times to service disruptions have reduced losses by at least 3 percent and increased revenues for the company.