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Kenya: Water Rights are Human Rights, Project Update

Posted on: Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Keywords: Kenya, Africa, Environmental Justice, Water Rights

In partnership with our sister organization, the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), MADRE supported the installation of a community water collection point and a drinking trough for livestock for the Emayian Maasai community of Southwest Kenya. These innovations will protect a local water source and provide clean water to the people drawing water from it.  
The water source was once completely unprotected allowing contamination that endangered the health of the community and erosion that endangered the water source itself - © IINThe project was initiated by a local women’s group that had become concerned because their primary water source was shared with livestock, meaning that it became contaminated and the area around it was being eroded due to heavy use. Every year, nearly 1.8 million people worldwide die from diarrhea caused by dirty water. Typhoid, cholera and other deadly diseases are also spread by contaminated water, bringing the death toll from water-related diseases to a staggering 3.5 million people a year.

Around the world, it is women and girls who are responsible for providing water to households. The daily task of carrying water over distances is back-breaking work. In rural Africa, women commonly walk 10 kilometers a day to a water source and back. Each day, women from the Emayian Maasai community had to gather water for household use before 9 am. After that, grazing cattle and other animals used the water source. 
Construction of a barrier was the first step to providing clean water - © IIN

After consulting with community elders and youth representatives, the women’s group reached out to IIN and MADRE. Over the course of several weeks in April 2009, community members worked together to construct a barrier to protect the water source. The barrier has outlets to allow water to flow freely downstream and be carried by pipes to the community collection point and watering trough. Project participants also constructed a water collection point that is easily accessible for community members and the large watering trough for livestock.

The newly constructed barrier protects the water source while allowing water to flow freely and be carried to collection points through pipes - © IINA pipe carries clean water from the source to a collection point that is easily accessible for community members - © IIN

As part of the project, participants came together to determine guidelines for water use and how to address the misuse of any components of the water project. Community members also discussed plans to plant native trees in the areas surrounding the water source and collection point in order to prevent erosion and water contamination.

Livestock now access clean water from a trough - © IIN

The collection point is easily accessible for community members - © IIN

Click on images to enlarge.

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