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Project Update: Expanding Access to Safe Water for Indigenous Women in Kenya

Ongoing drought in Kenya has put millions of people at risk of hunger and starvation. For women who play a primary role in securing clean water for their families, these severe droughts create new burdens. MADRE partners with the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) to improve access to clean water in four Indigenous Maasai communities and to protect women and their families from drought and water contamination.

Even before the current droughts intensified Kenya's water crisis, many Indigenous Maasai lacked a reliable system to bring water to their community. In the Transmara region, women have to walk every day to the nearest spring to collect water and haul heavy buckets of water back home. The spring also serves as a watering hole for their livestock, increasing the risk of water-borne diseases, including cholera, typhoid and scabies. Heavy usage by people and animals has eroded the soil around the spring, and the run-off dirt and mud further endanger the water quality.

These are threats that MADRE and IIN have worked together for years to address. With the continued support of MADRE members, we're excited to announce that we have expanded this work to four more communities; Loglogo, Laisamis, Kashelpho and Ewagan, improving access to clean water in areas whose water supply was contaminated by livestock. Working with IIN, we facilitated the repair of water tanks and pipelines that provide clean water for Indigenous women and families. We also built separate water troughs for their animals, to guard against water-borne diseases and to prevent erosion of the areas around clean water sources.

These improvements enable women to collect water from a protected source, closer to their village. This means that women will spend less time hauling water and will be able to participate in other activities in their communities. Because cattle have their own water troughs, we can protect against water-borne diseases, and the community will be assured of clean water for drinking, washing and bathing.

Photo Credit: IIN

April 14, 2011  / Africa / Kenya / Environmental Justice