Kenya Wells Report for 2008-2009
BSR has also been involved in the provision of clean and adequate water in the needy communities of Kenya, especially the semi-arid areas. Through our partnership with Global Ministries, we have to-date drilled six boreholes in Kenya: four in Mutha and Ikutha Divisions, one in Laikipia, and one in Kajiado District.
The Board for Social Responsibility (BSR) was created in 1979 by the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA). It was given the mandate to coordinate, facilitate, organize, supervise, and monitor the church’s social development activities and humanitarian projects and programs.
BSR places a particular priority on gender in its work. It relates directly to the Women’s Guild of the PCEA and involves both the national and regional leadership of the Women’s Guild in assessments, distribution, and planning of emergency responses. Women occupy a key role in the work of BSR.
BSR provides technical assistance, monitoring, and evaluation to nearly 300 community-based development projects initiated and implemented at the community level. It has recently expanded its work in water projects through the purchase of a large drilling rig and the expansion of the team. This work in water projects has now extended into South Sudan.
BSR was involved in emergency relief operations in Ikutha and Mutha Divisions in 2005-2007 during the famine that gripped Kenya. BSR has also been involved in the provision of clean and adequate water in the needy communities of Kenya, especially the semi-arid areas. Through our partnership with Global Ministries, we have to-date drilled six boreholes in Kenya: four in Mutha and Ikutha Divisions, one in Laikipia, and one in Kajiado District. In 2008-2009 BSR also responded to needs of communities affected by the post election violence that rocked the country after the disputed 2007 general elections.
Ikutha and Mutha are located in the eastern part of Kenya and are overwhelmingly dependant on rain fed agriculture for food and livestock production. The population of each of the two divisions is 46,691 people for Mutha and 51,857 people for Ikutha. The area falls within the semi-arid zone of the country characterized by low rainfall and poor soils. It is dependent on the short rains which occur in November/December. Over the last five years, the seasons have been starting late with poorly distributed rains which have been mostly below normal. This has created almost total crop failure in all the seasons. The need for food has been immediate and pressing. Greater still is communities’ need for support for a sustainable development initiative which will address the causes of drought and famine situations. The district has been relying on relief supplies for the last five years, a situation worsened by lack of water for both domestic and livestock use. Some communities travel for more than 12 miles to fetch water and in most cases it is never enough. About 73 percent of the population is food poor and cannot get enough food having the required nutrients. In 2007, the area was ranked 208th poorest out of all the 210 constituencies in the country.
The PCEA Board for Social Responsibility (BSR) has worked in Ikutha and Mutha divisions for three years addressing the emergency food deficit created by the 2006 famine. During subsequent years, continuous crop failure has necessitated ongoing relief operations in the area. Due to the chronic nature of famine, it became necessary to go a step further and integrate the relief effort into development. BSR put measures in place to empower local community members to be self-sufficient in food production and to access clean and adequate water. This has partly been achieved through improving community access to water, which has contributed positively to food security.
According to the Kitui District Development plan, about 80 percent of the residents of the project area practice marginal mixed farming (subsistence agriculture and livestock keeping). They consume food from their farms and sell livestock and surplus farm produce to purchase whatever is not locally produced. Major crops grown include maize, beans, pigeon peas, cow peas, green grams, pearl millet, and sorghum. Other sources of income include sale of livestock, honey, and charcoal burning. Women also rely on basket weaving for sale both locally and in major towns through middle women. Some residents operate small scale roadside businesses as well as in the shopping centers in the area. Others rely on relatives who are employed outside the district for support.
Water shortage in this area is a priority problem. Access to water in the target areas for human consumption, agricultural and livestock use is a major problem. The water supply situation has deteriorated over the years to a point where demand cannot be sustained with the current systems. According to the National Poverty Eradication Plan 1999–2015, “a household’s inadequate access to water has major adverse consequences on the length of a poor woman’s working day. In setting the water sector’s targets for safe water, the social indicator was the impact on women’s work load.”
Residents walk long distances in search of water and, since fetching water rests on the shoulders of women, their work load has been greatly reduced by the drilling of boreholes through the support from their partner, Global Ministries. Water has been brought within reasonable walking distance (less than two miles from most households). Each borehole is serving about 70 households with clean water and the community has donated three acres of land around each borehole where the spilled water is used to irrigate vegetables which are sold to the local communities at affordable rates to help in sustaining the boreholes.
Most people in the target areas earn their livelihood from land and from use of natural resources. The Board of Social Responsibility provides training for the farmers on good agricultural practices and sustainable exploitation of available resources as well as natural resource conservation – soil and water conservation and tree planting.
Benefits from the installation of the boreholes include reducing the drop-out of school by girls who previously had to assist in search and collection of water. Boys who work with livestock also spend less time away from school because livestock do not have to be taken so far to reach water.
While the main beneficiaries of the boreholes are poor households most affected by the drought, other members of the community also benefited from the water projects, vegetables from the farming as well as from the strengthened community systems and structures. In total, about 280 households have directly or indirectly benefited from the boreholes. Women have benefited more because, although they don’t control the resources, they bear the brunt of the problems as they provide agricultural labor (cultivation, weeding, harvesting of crops) but have little to show for it after crop failure. The availability of water through the boreholes is a welcome relief to them. The Board of Social Responsibility of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa continues in its work to provide additional boreholes that provide clean water to communities in need, with the accompaniment of Global Ministries.