Shillings 50 was all I needed to end the long time stomach problem-Janet

Inadequate access to affordable safe drinking water is a something that has made life unbearable for millions of people in Kenya. It is a situation that has widened the gap between people in different social circles. Some families have been reduced to beggars, depending on the well up families for survival. This has rendered less human beings, defying the common belief among people and teachings in the Christian doctrine that human beings are equal.

More than 17 million Kenyans have no access to safe drinking water. They depend on water from rivers, dams, wells and boreholes located miles away which is mostly not safe for human consumption. In some parts of the country, women and children have to trek for over 10 kilometers to access these limited water sources. This has had a great impact on their social life as they have no time to interact among themselves. As some people get detached from their social circles, they forget about their traditions and culture.

The larger population of those who are unable to get access to safe drinking water are mainly the rural and urban. They are left with no choice other than drinking water that is within their reach which is usually contaminated. Their suffering begins immediately they take the water. They experience stomach problems as a result of water related infections. Hospitals become their regular visiting places with doctors at times not being able to diagnose the exact cause of stomach problems.

A lot of money is usually paid to hospitals to offset medical bills for patients suffering from water related infections including cholera, diarrhea and typhoid. Sometimes, the patients majority of whom are children and women lose battle to the infections. Grief, sorrow and regrets befall the bereaved. Loss of a loved one is the most stressful thing that is difficult to come to terms with, especially when death could have been prevented.

The predicament has hit major parts of the country especially the arid areas and slums. Cry of the people is so much that anyone can hear it although some of the institutions and individuals expected to respond seems not to be interested to listen. People are living in abject poverty; not even being able to afford two meals per day, not being able to seek proper medication at the appropriate time. People need to be helped out of the situation and it is possible.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon once said,” Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth…these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all”.

Africaqua and water.org have proved beyond reasonable doubts that it is indeed true that when one problem is solved, the other problems are also solved. The establishment of a network of water shops in arid areas like Kajiado County has already borne fruits. Residents here are now telling a different story of how things are after they started using Africaqua water. The residents meanwhile still hold on to the weird nostalgia of how things were before Africaqua water came to be.

Janet Akoth, a Kimana resident is one of the greatest beneficiaries of Africaqua Kimana water shop. For her, Africaqua water is not like any other water around the area, it has some medicinal values; she calls it “medicine”.

Hers is a story of resilience. A story of hope. She thought her life had hit a deadlock until her doctor advised her to drink Africaqua. This is after experiencing severe stomach problems and abnormal diarrhea that almost dehydrated her body. She had previously sought help from friends who advised her to boil water before drinking it. Every effort to purify the water through traditional methods were in vain. The more water she took, the more her health deteriorated. Doctor came to her rescue when she had lost hope. She never thought that her stomach would be well again.

She had to follow doctor’s instructions since all the other advices and directions from friends bore no fruits. Despite of fear and uncertainty, Janet followed doctor’s instructions to the latter. She walked to Africaqua shop and ordered a jerrycan of safe drinking water.

She came to realize that she only needed Africaqua water to regain her health and strength, a few days after drinking the water. Her stomach problems vanished until today. Even her children and grandchildren who were having the same problems no longer complains. She buys 25 litre jerrycan of safe drinking water per week at only shillings 50. She realized that she only needed shillings 50 to get her stomach healed.

“It was unbelievable! I could not believe that I needed only shillings 50 to cure stomach problems that had posed a great threat to my life. I never thought I would regain my health. Thank you Africaqua for the water. I will always drink it. It is my medicine”, said Janet amid laughter.

Janet no longer treks to collect water or spends time moving from hospital to hospital seeking medication. She has time to be with her kin as well as sufficient time to engage in economic activities to support her family.

Similar stories to Janet’s are being shared by other Kimana and Oloitoktok residents like Margaret and Njoki who also realized that problem was not in their stomachs, but in the water they were using before. They say that their healing costed only shillings 50 and will never go back to drinking water they are not sure of its source.

The moving stories from water shop beneficiaries indicate that ending water shortage nightmare is the way to bring to an end thousands of other challenges facing human kind. Our efforts to provide low income community members with safe drinking water are on the high gear and we will not rest until people get access to affordable water at their doorstep.

                                                                                  *END*

It is the end of tribulations for Kajiado residents

March 2, 2016 will remain historic in the minds of Kimana and Kajiado residents at large, as the day they witnessed a mega event taking place on their soil. People came from far and wide just to be part of the auspicious activity, whose stories will be shared from gen­eration to generation.

Young and old thronged the remote town in rift valley region to witness the proceedings of the rare activity taking place in the town.A convoy of vehicles escorting Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa who was the chief guest and other dignitaries awakened the small town. Kajiado County is known for its aridity state, with residents being forced to nomadic form of living. Lack of access to safe drinking water is not some­thing new to residents. Some of them have been used to staying for days without water. The little water available in most of the areas is not fit for human consumption.

In Kimana to be specific, residents rely on water from a seasonal stream located kilometers away from the town and a single water kiosk located at the heart of the town. They share the stream water with their animals, oblivi­ous of the risks they are put their lives into.

Residents here value their animals probably more than themselves. When their animals get water to drink, they consider the problem solved. Jenni­fer Naeku, a mother of three and a native Kimana resident told me that the Maasai community cannot stand watch their animals lose lives to thirst and hunger.

When residents heard of AfricAqua’s intention to set up a water shop where they could access safe drink­ing water easily, their eagerness to see the project operating surpassed any other anticipations. They watched in disbelief as the water shop came to be. They could not imagine drinking safe water that has undergone thorough treatment.

When the launch day finally came, no one and nothing could have prevented them from accessing the project site to witness its official commissioning by the Cabinet Secretary. Every­body was eager to have a sip of the new and sure product in town. Different institutions were represented with Africaqua as the host, ensuring that everything went on as planned. This was not the day for trial and errors.

Our partners (Spring Accelerator, Ekocenter, Water.org and Pentair) who could also not wait to see the idea by Africaqua CEO David Kuria coming to reality could not have afforded to miss this auspicious occasion as well. Their representatives reiterated on the need to have similar projects in other arid and semi-arid areas. They had every reason to be happy, see­ing one of the projects they have been part of from the begin­ning, bringing hope to thousands of deserving Kenyans.

The Cabinet Secretary hailed the move by Africaqua and her partners, urging other private companies to follow suit, say­ing that water scarcity nightmare cannot be left for national government alone to solve.

Today, thousands of Kimana residents have an easy access to safe drinking water at an affordable price. Such benefits will soon be realized by Matuu and Narok residents where similar projects are ongoing.

 

New Dawn for Donkeys as Technology Finally Yields Second Generation Cart

Some call it the beast of burden. They load it with any form of burden. What they care most is to see their load reach destination. They use sticks to beat it, causing damage to its skin. It develops wounds that cause severe pain. They do not bother to get medi­cation for it. What they do not understand or simply ignore is the fact that the animal has its rights; just like human beings. It is commonly referred to as donkey.

It is estimated that there are at least 1.8 million don­keys in Kenya, mostly operating in remote areas. They are used to ferry farm produce, firewood and water especially in arid and semi-arid areas like Kajiado, Machakos, some parts of rift valley region and other areas countrywide.

Although the animals are subjected to very difficult activities under harsh conditions, some of those who use them do not take time to understand what the ani­mals go through. They forget that the animals also have life, they get tired and experience pain when injured especially when they are made to pull an ill conditioned cart.

After an intensive research and analysis of the predicaments don­keys go through in their dairy chores, Africaqua, Water.org, The Donkey Sanctuary, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) among other partners came up with new models of donkey cart (INKUA donkey cart). The designs and fab­rication of the donkey carts was done at JKUAT in the year 2015.

The INKUA donkey cart contest was open to engineering stu­dents in JKUAT and after thorough assessment, the best designs were adopted. The new designs of donkey cart have a lot of improved features that ensure convenience and safety of donkeys while ferrying luggage, in this case water.

March 22, 2016 marked a great breakthrough for donkeys and their users as Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa officially launched the new models of donkey cart.Through the donkey cart, Africaqua is determined in ensuring that donkeys ferry water to the required destination using very little energy. The cart is designed in such a way that the load exerts pressure on the axle as opposed to the old donkey cart where the load exerts too much pressure on the donkey’s back. This will make it possible for the donkey to carry water even uphill.

Africaqua believes that nothing should prevent people from get­ting access to safe drinking water. All this is being done in order to improve and make our water value chain different from others. Water will be reaching people at the right time and in its safest state.

Africaqua Water Shop Reprieve for Matuu Residents

By David Mwaura

Canal

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

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.

Photo: Courtesy

Enhancement of Proper Sanitation is a Collective Role

The recent report on the study of predictors of open defecation among residents in the 47 counties in Kenya is probably the most devastating item one can spend time reading. The report has indicated that, out of the 47 counties, 15 of them have open defecation rates of more than 40 percent; about 5.6 million Kenyans engaging in the risky practice. The research also found out that, Turkana leads in the open defecation rates with over 88.4 percent of residents using open defecation.

The most shameful part of the findings is that, predictors of open defecation are issues that could be easily. According to John Njuguna and Charles Muruka; the forces behind this study, high poverty levels and culture among other factors contribute to an increase in the open defecation practices.

Open defecation involves people relieving themselves in bushes, water bodies and other open fields. This is a very bad habit, bearing in mind the health risk the practice poses to people. Poor sanitation usually plunges community members into a state of vulnerability to dangerous infections like cholera and diarrhea.

According to the report by Njuguna and Muruka; disabled people, girls and women are the most vulnerable to open defecation repercussions. This means that they stand a higher chance to contract diseases caused by poor sanitation practices. Women also have to put up with gender based violence in their aim to get sanitary facilities.

As expressed by World Health Organization (WHO), open defecation which is a great health hazard is a global sanitation crisis being practiced by over one billion people globally. The most heartbreaking news is that, the practice continues to gain popularity in sub-Saharan Africa while as its decreases in the developed countries.

Faecal matter dropped in water sources contaminates the water, leaving people to consume unsafe water. This exposes people to water related infections like cholera, diarrhea and hepatitis A. The researchers indicate that poor sanitation in most of the African countries lead to increased mortality rate, with a child dying every two and a half minutes.

High poverty levels have contributed to the rise in the open defecation practices and hence poor sanitation among poor community members. To properly handle this matter and decrease the open defecation practices, every stakeholder in the environment, water and health sectors should take position and handle this matter from all the dimensions.

It is time for citizens to be included in the development programs to ensure that they get enough money to support themselves and also invest in sanitation mechanisms. Through this, we will be able to fight challenges posing threat to their lives. There is no human life that is worth losing to preventable diseases like cholera and diarrhea.

Although Kenya is among the developing countries, the study report is not something to please anyone. As a country, we have to accept that there is a serious problem threatening our lives and explore on the ways to deal with the problem once and for all. The report should be a wakeup call to the government, private sectors and Kenyans at large to get out of the comfort zones and chart the way forward.

Forums to sensitize people on the need to enhance proper sanitation should be set up in different parts of the country. People should be educated on the health risks of open defecation and be empowered with resources to facilitate proper sanitation mechanisms.

National, county governments and private sectors should join hands to ensure that sanitation facilities are improved in both rural and urban areas. Modern sanitation facilities like toilets should be constructed near people and be trained on how to use them. This will help to reduce the number of people using open defecation.

Access to safe drinking water should also be made possible to ensure that the water being consumed by everyone is not contaminated. Water treatment and testing should be made mandatory before any amount of water is consumed. The exercise should be carried out across the country without any discrimination.

We should not just sit back, relax and assume that everything is okay when preventable diseases like cholera and hepatitis A continue to rob us of our loved ones. If we will manage to deal with sanitation challenges, then more than half of the viral diseases killing our people would be put off.

 

Africaqua BCtA Membership Press Release

Africaqua BCtA Membership Press Release

Nairobi, June 30, 2016 /3BL Media/

AfricAqua, a social enterprise focused on innovative solutions for delivering clean water to low-income communities, joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to provide 20,000 Kenyans with access to safe drinking water through 100 Watershop water outlets. These ‘water malls’ are expected to employ 200 young adults as distributors and offer entrepreneurship opportunities to community members offering related products and services.

The BCtA is a global initiative that aims to support private sector efforts to fight poverty through its core business. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

AfricAqua’s inclusive One Safe Drop initiative is introducing a novel concept of clean-water delivery to areas of Kenya without access to safe drinking water. Throughout the country, demand for clean water is so high that existing water-delivery mechanisms cannot keep up. AfricAqua’s innovative distribution model involves establishing community water hubs, which not only provide safe, treated water (with water-quality results available to consumers), but incorporate space for pharmacists, solar, health and hygiene products as well as water-related merchandise.

According to David Kuria, founder and Chief Executive Officer of AfricAqua, “In the Post-2015 era, access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for households, schools and health facilities is of critical importance. But this can only happen by bringing clean water the last mile to poor communities. AfricAqua’s One Safe Drop initiative aims to tackle this challenge while providing local employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. We are pleased that our efforts have been recognized by the Business Call to Action.”

In Kenya, clean water is scarce and most people cannot afford home-treatment systems. Epidemics of diarrhea, cholera and parasitic worms have severely impacted poor communities as a result of contaminated water sources and unsanitary water collection and consumption equipment. Supplies of treated water are constrained by challenges with distribution – especially to the low-income communities who face the direst need. With continued population growth, it is estimated that by 2025, Kenya’s per capita water availability will be approximately two thirds less than it is now. Unless the distribution gap is addressed, this will have serious consequences on public health and the nation’s economy.

AfricAqua aims to bridge this gap by adapting services to the specific needs of each community and developing public-private partnerships that facilitate efficiency, innovation and delivery. In addition to bringing 20,000 people safe water and other critical services by 2020, AfricAqua’s One Safe Drop initiative will provide clean water to health centers and schools.

The company’s inclusive business model was informed by Ikotoilet, a social enterprise that incorporated snack shops, showers and money-transfer services along with sanitation services. AfricAqua’s One Safe Drop initiative has adopted a flexible approach, offering clean water both at Watershops (where reverse-osmosis treatment takes place) and kiosks throughout densely populated areas. This flexibility not only makes AfricAqua’s business model sustainable and scalable, but provides much-needed employment opportunities for local youth as water distributors and affiliated shopkeepers.

“Beyond affordable access to safe water, this simple but innovative model has the potential to transform the health, economies and education outcomes of the communities it serves,” said Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager of the BCtA. “We welcome AfricAqua’s membership to the Business Call to Action.”

AfricAqua’s first Water shops in Kajiado, Machakos and Narok are now being piloted along with community water kiosks; these communities were chosen because of their acute demand. AfricAqua has provided communities members in these locations with 1 litre, 10 Litre, 20 litre and 25 litre reusable cans for easy water collection, and disinfects the cans each time they are refilled. With Kenya’s significant demand, the company has committed to scale up to 100 Watershops by the end of 2020 and expects to break even within five years of operation. This dramatic expansion is being made possible by partnerships with Government of Kenya, Water.org and Coca Cola among others, which are providing financing as well as technical assistance and expertise in business innovation and growth.

 

Every Kenyan Has the Right to Safe Drinking Water, says Kuria

By David Mwaura, Africaqua Limited Communications Officer

Africaqua CEO David Kuria has reassured Kenyans living in drought hit areas and informal settlements that the company will continue expanding its projects to ensure that everyone gets easy access to safe drinking water at an affordable cost.

Speaking during an interview with radio maisha, Kuria noted that more than 60 percent of Kenyans do not have easy access to safe drinking water and hence stand a higher chance to water related infections, citing incident where hundreds of people suffered from Hepatitis A infections in coastal region a few weeks ago.

He said that it is the right of every Kenyan to get access to safe drinking water irrespective of their location, adding that Africaqua Limited through the One Safe Drop Initiative, targets people who do not get access to government piped water.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that even that grandmother in a manyatta gets access to safe drinking water. Our main target are people who do not have access to piped water by the government and hence the last mile”, said Kuria.

Africaqua water that is abstracted, treated through filtration, reverse osmosis and chlorination and later packaged in 1L, 10L and 25L jerricans is sold to community members at an affordable cost, to ensure that it does not pose health risks to consumers.

The CEO meanwhile cautioned that people should be very careful while buying bottled water because not every bottled water is safe for drinking. He said this in reaction to the recent crackdown by Kenya Bureau of Standards against rogue water companies.

Although Africaqua has already partnered with Water.org, Spring Accelerator, EKOCENTER and Pentair, Kuria noted that getting donors to fund the high investment project has been a big challenge and urged other willing entities to partner with the company to ensure that water scarcity challenge is dealt with once and for all.

Through the partnership, Africaqua has already launched its first project in Kimana, Kajiado County, with other two projects in Narok and Matuu almost coming to a completion. The company intends to expand the projects to other dry areas around the country as well as slum settlements all over the country.

 

Water Scarcity in Africa

Water scarcity also referred to as lack of safe drinking water is one of the world’s leading problems that face more than 1.1 billion people globally. This simply means that at least one in every six people does not have access to safe drinking water.

World Health Organization defines safe drinking water as the water with microbial, chemical and physical properties that meet the WHO national standards of drinking water quality. On average, every person’s access to water should meet a threshold of 1700 cubic meters to be used in agriculture, industrial and energy production among other uses.

Due to high population growth rates in the majority of African countries, the population-to-water equation has not been able to balance normally. This has made many people to experience either moderate or severe water scarcity challenges. If the water availability threshold per person is at 1 000 cubic meters, this is the state referred to as water scarcity while any threshold below 500 cubic meters is termed as the state of acute water scarcity.

Sadly, millions of Africans especially the ones living in the Sub-Sahara region experience water scarcity stress with majority of them being not even able to access water for several days. The saddest thing is that, the condition is expected to get even worse and by 2030, at least 75 to 250 million people will be facing severe water stress. Water scarcity expose people to among other risks health complications.

On average, a normal human being may survive for between 3-5 days without water. If the state of complete water scarcity persists, one has no chances to continue living. This makes people to turn to any available water irrespective of its safety. Drinking of dirty water risks people health as it exposes them to waterborne disease infections.

Diseases like cholera, dysentery, trachoma, diarrhea among other killer diseases have been on the rise in African countries mainly because there is lack of sophisticated mechanisms to treat drinking water. This is unlike in the developed countries where there are proper mechanisms to treat and store water.

Water scarcity highly affects children education because they are forced to join their parents in the hunt for water instead of being in school. As a long term effect, water shortage lead to a slowdown in the development process as many people do not engage in other productive roles apart from water collection. With this state of water scarcity in African countries, the number of poor people will continue to rise.

The water project initiatives like the one by Africaqua will be the only way people will manage to pull themselves out of the jaws of poverty. The project targets people living in arid and semi-arid areas to ensure that they get easy access to safe drinking water at a price they can afford.

The initiative will enable beneficiaries to utilize more time in development activities rather than collecting water. The number of people suffering from waterborne diseases will also reduce gradually.

Let’s take advantage of the massive runoff by collecting it

From Turkana to Tiaty, Nairobi to Nakuru, effects of the ongoing heavy rainfall that has pounded the country over the last two months have been intense. Houses have collapsed, vehicles swept by massive run offs as landslides torment residents of the peaceful Murang’a County. The weatherman has announced that the heavy rains might hit the country for a little while, something that has obviously not been received well by millions of Kenyans.

Today, cold shivers are sent down the spines of everyone when clouds begin to form. People are worried because they do not know what the rains might bring forth. For those working in town like Nairobi, they have to rush home as early as possible to avoid being denied access to their residential areas by the merciless water flooding Nairobi roads.

The heavy rains have already made some people homeless, others lost their lives somehow defying the common saying “Water is Life”, as others fight for their lives in hospitals following injuries rendered to them by the collapsed walls and buildings.

It will meanwhile be very sad if we will allow the runoff to go untamed and later complain about water shortage once the rains dwindle. Places like Turkana known for its aridity state is nowadays experiencing massive runoffs. The water is being allowed to flow freely as the soil has already taken more than enough of it.

As a country that knows what people go through during the dry season, we should not allow the water to flow uncollected. It is necessary for the government with the help of private companies device on the ways to collect the water, purify it and make it ready for use in the future.

Large dams can work well for places like Turkana where farming activities are very rare. If a few dams can be prepared, it will make it easier for the runoff to be collected and properly treated for use.

Even though the rains have a lot of negative effects to millions of Kenyans, we should be ready to take advantage of it to save our future. No matter how much people complain, the rain will go on and it will only make sense to us if we save enough of the water for future use.

Kenya has enough experts and resources to manage the runoff in different parts of the country and there is therefore no excuse for not collecting the storing enough water for the future. The want can be used to irrigate crops, used at homes as well as well water the ever thirsty livestock in the arid areas.

This will also help in saving the large amounts of money government spends on buying food to feed the hunger stricken communities. The money can be used to facilitate development programs.

David Mwaura, Communications Manager, Africaqua Limited.