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.