By David Mwaura
Image showing dried up Yatta Canal in Yatta Sub-County. Yatta residents partly depend on this canal for domestic water supply.
Located in Yatta Constituency in Machakos County, Matuu cannot run from the desert state of majority of the areas in Eastern and North Eastern Kenya, where access to water is a nightmare to many. This has threatened every life in the regions, making it difficult for people to lead a normal life.
It is estimated that at least 17 million Kenyans lack easy access to safe drinking water. The number could be a bit higher, bearing in mind that most of the people living in Eastern, North Eastern and some parts of Rift Valley region have no access to safe drinking water. Matuu residents are among the estimated number. The residents have to struggle a lot to access safe drinking water.
The residents primarily depend on a water shop located at Kivandini market. This water comes from Tana-Athi water services board. There are very few people whose homes are connected to piped water and therefore, those who cannot collect the water from water shop rely on water deliveries from water vendors.
My interaction with the residents reveals that people are in dire need of reliable safe drinking water. Jackson Mbithi, one of the water vendors tells me that the water shop by Tana-Athi water services board is not reliable since it at times run out of the commodity, forcing people to resort to other sources of water like the borehole at the P.C.E.A Matuu whose water is salty.
“I cannot say that we have a reliable safe water source around this area. We depend on this water shop. Sometimes the water shop run out of the commodity, bringing frustrations to hundreds of people who queue here at every single moment”.
Water from the church borehole contains too much salts, making it unsuitable for drinking. Residents therefore have to brace scorching sun and dust trekking, just to get drinking water from wells located far away from the town. The wells are also not reliable since they regularly run out of this vital commodity.
Jerricans filled with water ready for sale at water vendors’ bay in Matuu town. The jerricans are not hygienically fit to hold drinking water.
Although the water vendors supply drinking water to residents, the jerricans they use are not in good conditions and this poses a threat to water users. The vendors use the same jerricans to collect water from different sources. Charles Maina, another water vendor explains to me why they use the same jerricans to collect water.
“We do not have money to buy extra jerricans. Remember that this is business and we have to make something out of it. We meanwhile “clean” the jerricans every time we are refilling them”, Maina explains.
He also goes ahead to tell me that getting water from different water sources is a great challenge because they have to make very long queues and therefore, they rarely get time to clean the jerricans. Africaqua water shop that will ensure a reliable supply of safe drinking water is therefore the best solution for the Matuu residents.
Water vendors and the general public will not be subjected to long queuing because water will always be ready in jerricans, meaning that they will only be required to pick the filled jerricans and leaving the empty ones for refill. This will minimize time wasting at the water shop, ensuring that people get water at the right time. The jerricans will also be in good condition reducing chances of water related infections among the residents.