Kwale women saved from worrying about water
Women in Kwale can now focus their energies on development issues without necessarily having to worry about water.
This follows an initiative by the County Government of Kwale, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Roll Out the Barrel Company which distributed 15,030 litres rollable water barrels to women who are either widowed or poor as well as those living with disability or orphans.
Beneficiaries were also given 20 water filtration kits which can be used by ten households each.
Speaking during the ceremony at the County headquarters, Governor Salim Mvurya said the Kwale County Government shall continue to support programmes that empower women to their rightful positions.
“We shall continue to serve our people and not get detracted from delivering our promises,” said Mvurya. He added: “This project will go a long way in helping women to overcome water challenges as three quarters of the County is either arid or semi-arid.”
Other areas that the County has focused on include education, roads and health with a special focus on maternal health.
Deputy Governor Fatuma Achani said once water challenges are overcome, it becomes easier for women to handle farming, health, trade, and education and leadership issues.
Roll Out the Barrel Trust Chief Executive Officer, Andrian Brewer said the initiative which started five years ago, was motivated by sights of women and children who have always struggled to carry water on their backs and heads.
“Five years ago I came to Africa and saw poor women and children carrying water on their heads. Moved by their plight, I decided to do something to improve their lifestyle,” explained Brewer.
He added: “I decided to roll out the initiative at the community level where the situation is severe and people have to walk for longer distances before they can access the nearest water points and in some instances, the water points have dried up causing water problems,”.
According to Brewer, women and children living in dry areas were the hardest hit. “I have always wanted to do something to alleviate suffering around the world and this Barrel is a move in the right direction. We also plan to finance an additional 20 water projects in Kwale,” he said.
UNDP Representative, Ann Jupner, who is also the Director for the Global Policy Centre for Resilient Ecosystem and Desertification, appreciated the County’s cooperation in solving water challenges for women as well as the strength and determination shown by Kwale women in working for the comfort of their families despite the challenges of physical health and fatigue.
Jupner noted that most parts of Kwale County face water scarcity and women walk for more than two hours in hilly areas every day to fetch water.
“I know that many parts of Kwale County are faced with acute water shortages. Many women walk for more than one or two hours every day to fetch water many times in hilly areas,” said Jupner. She noted: “This is what makes this event useful and practical in alleviating the challenges that women and children face in looking for water for domestic use.”
She lauded the County Government of Kwale for partnering with UNDP and Roll Out the Barrel Trust to provide a solution to some of the challenges women and children face when looking for water to use at home and feed their families.
Jupner appreciated the women of Kwale County for their strength and determination to provide a better life for themselves, their children and families.
“We know that women spend many hours of the day collecting water and this often subjects them to physical pain, discomfort and fatigue,” she noted.
According to Jupner this practice is often unhealthy and time consuming but due to the love and commitment to their families, women continue to struggle day in and day out to ensure that they meet their families water needs.
“Roll Out the Barrel has offered a solution to this problem by enabling women to push the barrel of water and not carry them on their head, shoulders or back,” observed Jupner. She noted: “By using the barrels, women will now be able to fetch water in a much shorter time and this means women will have time to do other activities at homes including in the farms and on their small businesses.”
Jupner explained: “Women have also been trained on how to effectively use the water barrels and filters to promote hygiene and this has enabled them venture on income generating opportunities in the communities.”
Together with their partners including the Roll Out Barrel Trust, UNDP will explore objects to manufacture the water barrel locally, at a cheaper cost and also support in building the capacities of women because “when you empower a woman you empower a family”.
Hemed Mwabudzo, Kwale County Executive Committee member Water Services, Public Works and Infrastructure said it is possible to borrow the skill used to make rollable barrels and introduce the concept to local youth polytechnics.
“Besides rehabilitation and laying of new pipelines, the County Government has also drilled 15 boreholes so far to make the County water stress-free,” said Mwabudzo.