KIWASH, 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.
In his remarks, Muteshi Palapala, the Kakamega County Chief Officer for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, emphasized the relevance of the event to county planning. “This workshop is timely. It will contribute to the design of our programs and activities in a strategic manner. Specifically, it echoes the need of preparedness on the side of the county government to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 6 before 2030,’’ he said. (SDG 6)
Kakamega County has a long way to go before meeting the SDG 6 goal. Kakamega County is one of Kenya’s most populous, with nearly 2 million people. Yet only 30% of the county’s rural population has access to improved water sources, such as protected springs, boreholes, piped water to kiosks or homes, and rainwater collection, according to the Lake Victoria North Water Services Board (LVNWSB). This means that 70% of the rural population is accessing water from sources that leave them highly susceptible to water borne diseases. This, together with other challenges that touch on infrastructure, climate change and funding, necessitates social accountability and collaborative efforts among the actors.
As a follow up to the workshop, the participants will form networking platforms and new partnerships while monitoring and reporting their contributions to the sector. This will result to a more coordinated WASH sector for sustained projects.
In Kakamega County, KIWASH has spearheaded key water and sanitation projects through collaborative efforts with the county government, private sector actors, research institutions and various civil society organizations.
Thanks to these efforts, KIWASH has made notable achievements in water services provision and resources management. For example, 10,000 people in the Shibuname Community are benefitting from improved access to water, and 14,500 more are benefitting from improved access to safe water following direct infrastructure grants to four water enterprises. Further, 1,700 people are now able to access clean water from the protection of 11 springs, while 1,135 people have gained access to basic sanitation in 15 villages that were verified as open defecation free.
Greater collaboration and coordination among government, civil society and public partners will lead to even greater gains over time. KIWASH is hopeful the workshop will lead to improved health outcomes for thousands more people, which will help improve livelihoods and sustain improved water and sanitation projects and behaviors into the future.