Despite having an above-average annual rainfall of approximately 1,743mm, households in Nyamira County still struggle to access clean and reliable water. As of 2016, the main water service provider, Gusii Water and Sanitation Company (GWASCO), served only 37 percent of the nearly 700,000 residents with water.
The majority of the population must travel long distances to get water for domestic use. Such water access challenges contribute to low sanitation and hygiene standards in the county where, despite a high latrine coverage, open defecation remains significantly high. Because of this, diarrheal disease is prevalent in Nyamira.
Numerous water and sanitation infrastructure projects exist in Nyamira, yet have struggled to dependably improve conditions due to a general lack of capacity to maintain them. To address this challenge, USAID’s Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project (KIWASH) has since 2016 focused on supporting 21 WASH enterprises in Nyamira to gain requisite skills and knowledge to operate and manage their respective WASH enterprises in a sustainable manner.
In addition, KIWASH is supporting larger infrastructure projects for selected, high impact WASH enterprises to restore basic supply functions. One of the beneficiary projects is Machururiati Community Water Project. KIWASH helped revamp the project’s water supply infrastructure whose functions had stalled a few years after it began operations in 2007, mainly due to lack of maintenance.
The now solar-powered enterprise serves 3,200 new beneficiaries through newly constructed water kiosks, increased water storage and an improved distribution system that will facilitate piped connections into households. Together with the improved management and technical skills, this has enabled the enterprise to reach and serve more people dependably. The chairperson, Angela Muma, is very excited about this journey and appreciates the contribution that KIWASH has made and continues to make towards transforming their enterprise into a self-reliant entity. “Without KIWASH, we would still be staring at a white elephant project,” Angela jokes.
KIWASH continues to offer business development services through coaching and on the job training to Machururiati and 20 other community water projects in Nyamira County, with the goal of professionalizing their services to ensure there is clean and safe water for all.