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.

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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.