Kenya: Water Rights are Human Rights

The Problem:Water source near the Emayian Maasai community - © IIN

Access to clean water, a basic human right, has been an ongoing challenge for Indigenous Peoples in Kenya. Climate change and environmental degradation have contributed to frequent droughts, and the Emayian Maasai community hasn’t had the means to collect and store rainwater during the short rainy season.

Without a centralized system to bring water into the community, women are forced to haul heavy loads of water great distances. The local water source, a spring located 2.5 km from the village, also serves as a watering hole for livestock. The shared use leads to contamination of the water and the spread of water-borne diseases. The high-volume human and animal traffic is causing soil erosion around the spring, degrading the quality and availability of water.  

The Solution:

MADRE and the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) are working with groups of women to set up water purification systems that will be managed by members of the community. This has been accomplished by:

  • protecting the water source with a watertight concrete cap and a fence;
  • purifying the water through the installation of a filtration system;
  • transporting the water through a pipeline;
  • providing a concrete tank to store water during the dry season;
  • building a trough for livestock;
  • training youth to maintain the system;
  • forming a community committee that will manage the water project.

The Results:

  • The community will have access to uncontaminated water in both rainy and dry seasons.
  • Women will spend less time hauling water and will be able to participate in other activities.
  • The number of cases of cholera, scabies, typhoid and other waterborne diseases will be significantly reduced.
  • The spring will be protected from erosion caused by human and animal activity.