At the commencement of the project, JHC carried out entry meetings in Garissa and Kilifi Counties between January and March 2018. These meetings enabled JHC to meet with community members, leaders, county government, and water service providers, CSOs, religious leaders, women, youth and people abled differently among other stakeholders. Through these engagements, JHC was able to identify in collaboration with the stakeholders, the challenges and the needs that faced the people in these counties. One of the major results of the meetings was the fact that lack of access to water was a major problem that affected the people of these counties. Secondly, women were most affected when there was no water as they had to find ways to seek for water in rivers that exposed them to attacks from men, wild animals and crocodiles. Furthermore, the use of diesel pumps was not sustainable as fuel is expensive and the pumps are susceptible to frequent breakdowns hence increase in costs of repair and maintenance. JHC challenged the communities to think of sustainable water seeking behaviours and usage and come up with strategies that would best enable them to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change including ways that climate change affects water access.

In April 2018, JHC organized a meeting with the community in Nanighi ward, Fafi Sub County in Garissa County which is located in a rural setting about 55 kilometers from Garissa on the Garissa-Bura main road. During that meeting, the community expressed their challenges in accessing water due to various reasons. They had a diesel pump which was installed in July 2011. They have been using it for pumping water from a borehole near River Tana and supplying water to 44 households, a health centre, a primary and a secondary school. Each household that was connected directly to the main pipe and had a tap water in its compound was expected to contribute Ksh.500 per month to cater for expenses such as fuel, repair and maintenance, salaries of 2 operators, watchman and technicians when needed. However, most of the times they lacked water in the households, health centre,  primary and secondary schools because the diesel pump had broken down and they had to get spare parts and the technician from either Garissa or Nairobi.

On average, the pump had broken down 6 times per year since it was installed and it took about 4 weeks to repair hence the community could not access water for period of 24 weeks from its inception. When the pump broke down the community members especially women and children had to go to fetch water from the crocodile infested river that is about 2km from the households. Walking to the river two times a day meant that they had to cover 8km every day which had a toll on their health and energy. On the way to and from the river, the women were exposed to rape by men and the children to defilement and abuse. Wild animals such as hyenas and monkeys would attack them in search of water especially during the dry season. On reaching the river, the crocodiles would attack them having killed 6 women, 1 man and 1 child in 2018 and causing injuries to others. On average the community members who are pastoralists lose at least 5 goats each time they are taken to drink water directly from the river through crocodile attacks. The water from the river is contaminated and therefore has to be boiled and left to settle before it can be consumed. However, due to low levels of education or ignorance, some of the community members do not boil the water before consumption leading to increase an in number of water borne diseases. The loss of lives through crocodile attacks has made children to become orphans due to loss of parents and loss of income for the family especially in single parent families. It has also led to loss of animals that are the life line of the people who are pastoralists therefore contributing to loss of income and also source of food for the people. Furthermore, time and energy that can be channeled to income generating projects is lost through walking to and from the river. The time and energy that children would invest in their study is also lost leading to poor performance and consequently loss of investment that has been put on their education. Water borne diseases take a toll on the people and the health system and consequently increase expenditure on health by the family and the government that has to provide the drugs and health care services.

The community came up with the solution to these challenges thereby requesting JHC to find donors who would fund the installation of a solar pump that would not require fuel and will have minimum repair and maintenance costs. Besides solar energy is readily available in Garissa and as such is sustainable, climate friendly and its use would mean a continuous flow of water.

In response to this request, in May 2018, JHC organized an engagement forum between the local leaders (MCAs, from Fafi,  Garissa water CEC) and the community members (mostly women) to present their challenges of water access on their own. The meeting was attended by the Nanighi Ward Member of County Assembly (MCA) Mr. Hassan Omar, the Ward Administrator Mohammed Kani Hussein and the local chief. The members of the community included 2 members from the Nanighi Water Users Association and 6 members (women) of the community from Nanighi Ward. At the end of the meeting, the Nanighi Ward Member of County Assembly(MCA) Mr. Hassan Omar and the Ward Administrator Mohammed Kani Hussein promised to make a follow up on the issue by presenting the need of the community to the county assembly so that it could be considered for funding in the 2018/2019 County budget.

In June 2018, JHC organized the first Speaker’s Forum in Garissa which involved an engagement between the county executive, members of the county assembly and the community members. Women from Nanighi were facilitated by JHC to attend the meeting in Garissa and present their challenge of water access directly to the members of the county assembly in their own words. Garissa County is a patriarchal society and as such organizing forums that involved men and women had proved difficult as women would not actively participate. However, water being mainly a woman’s problem in this community, it became of great importance to have the women themselves speak at the forum to share their frustration resulting from lack of water. This they would do at a forum that was attended by members of county assembly who are mainly men. JHC, having worked with the women in Nanighi to build their capacity and empower them on their ability to effect change on their own, enabled the women to directly express their tribulations that were as a result of lack of water to the executive and the members of the county assembly.

In order to build more on the case and provide more accurate data to the county government regarding the situation of water access in Nanighi, JHC carried out a survey on community attitudes and behaviour in adapting climate smart water seeking patterns between 5th and 20th July 2018. This activity was carried out in Balambala, Lagdera, Garissa Township and Fafi Sub Counties in Garissa County. Community members and especially the women in Nanighi Ward in Fafi Sub County were actively involved in this activity. JHC furthermore organized round table discussions with members of the community from Garissa and Kilifi Counties, Civil Society Organizations(CSOs) and religious leaders in Sagana, Muranga County from the 15th to 17th August 2018. There were women representatives from Nanighi Ward in Fafi Sub County who expressed the challenges they were facing in regard to access to reliable water supply and urged the religious leaders and members of the Civil Society Organizations in Garissa County to offer their support through lobbying and advocacy.  To enhance the capacity for the women in lobbying and advocacy for their right to access water, JHC organized a women-specific strategy development forum on 26thAugust 2018, that involved women from Fafi Sub County. This was to prepare them for a forthcoming engagement with the leadership of the county government. On the 30th August 2018, JHC organized an issue support engagement with select members of the county assembly, Water Sector Trust Fund and the National Rain Water Harvesting Authority. The meeting was attended by 25 people including 13 MCAs, 8 women, 17 men and 14 youth. The women from Nanighi Ward in Fafi Sub County presented their frustration with respect to water access in Nanighi Ward.

In September 2018, Nanighi Ward MCA, the Ward Administrator in collaboration with the Chief organized a public baraza (meeting) in Nanighi Ward which was attended by a majority of the community members. The leaders informed the community members that they had secured funding to acquire a solar pump and 9 solar panels. The community would contribute the labour needed to construct the building that would house the equipment and the human resource to operate the pump and guard the facility. Since one borehole was being used to pump water using the diesel pump, the other borehole which was dilapidated would be repaired and would be used for the solar pump. The work of construction of the building, rehabilitation of the borehole, installation of the solar pump and the solar panels began in September 2018 and was complete by the end of November 2018. The water is pumped from the borehole to a 35,000litres tank that is located at Nanighi Primary School. The water is then distributed to a 17,000 litres tank at the Nanighi health centre, 10,000 litres tank at Nanighi secondary school, 93 households with water taps and 3 water kiosks. The women from the Nanighi Water Users Committee have the task of collecting the money from each household and the water kiosks every month. After collection of the money, they all meet together with the chief and village elders on the 5th of every month to report on the amount collected. They pay the watchman and 2 operators and report on any expenses that had been incurred in the course of the month. The balance is then deposited in the account which has 3 signatories that is the chairperson, treasurer and secretary of the Water Users Committee

In December 2018, JHC staff visited Nanighi ward to follow up on the progress of the project and met with community members to discuss the issues around the water access by the community. Due to the installation of the solar pump, the community has witnessed the following benefits:-

  1. The number of households connected to water supply has increased from 44 households that had water taps in their compound in May 2018 to 93 households in May 2019. However, a total of 270 households in Nanighi Ward access water not only from taps in their compound but also from 3 water kiosks which are run by the community. The households without the taps fetch water from the water kiosks and pay Ksh.50 per month. This is an increase from only 200 households that could access water in May 2018.
  2. Each household with a water tap in the compound used to pay Ksh.500 per month for water which translates to Ksh.6000 per year. After the installation of the solar pump, each household pays only Ksh.200 per month that translates to Ksh. 2,400 per year thus saving Ksh.3600 per year. At the moment 93 households, a health centre, a primary school and a secondary school benefit from the project
  3. Savings have been made on the cost of fuel. The community used to use 9 jericans of diesel with a capacity of 20 litres each per month. Each jerican was Ksh.2,400 and Ksh.100 transport making a total of Ksh. 21,600 for fuel every month and a total of Ksh.259,200 per year. Due to the use of the solar pump this cost of fuel has reduced to Ksh.2,500 per month for fuel that can be used when the solar pump is not working. This translates to Ksh.30,000 Thus saving a total of 229,200 per year.
  4. The technician who used to carry out maintenance of the diesel pump was paid Ksh.16,000 twice per year making a total of Ksh.32,000 per year. This cost has been eliminated due to the use of the solar pump.
  5. Nanighi primary school has 450 children and 9 teachers. They have three 10,000litres tanks that they use to store water and therefore have reliable supply of water from the project.
  6. Nanighi Secondary school has 130 students and 9 teachers. They have 10,000liters tank that is connected to the water supply from the solar pump.
  7. The women and children have saved time from not fetching water. On average the women and children spent at least 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening to fetch water making a total of 4 hours a day, 28 hours a week, 112 hours a month and 1,344 hours a year. Since the water is now in the compound or at the nearby water kiosk that is about 500metres from the house, the most they can use is 30 minutes to fetch water for use in the house.
  8. When the diesel pump broke down, the women and children had to walk at least 2km to the nearby river to fetch water making a total of 4km in the morning and 4km in the evening which makes a total of 8km every day. The availability of the water in the household and water kiosks has enabled them to save both the energy and time that they used to walk to and from the river every day. It has reduced their vulnerability to harassment, rape and defilement which they used to suffer on their way to the river including attacks by wild animals especially hyenas and monkeys.
  9. The availability of water has also saved them from loss of lives and injuries due to crocodile attacks. In the last two years, 6 women, 1 man and a child of class six of Nanighi primary were attacked and killed by the crocodiles when fetching water. In August 2018,a crocodile attacked a pastoralist who had taken his goats drink water at the river. He broke his thighbone, had serious injuries on his ribs and could have been dragged into the river by the crocodile if the other members of the community did not rush to help him. He recently attended one of JHC’s meetings as a person living with disability.
  10. More reliable water supply has enabled children to attend school on time, have more time to dedicate to their studies and consequently improvement in their performance in school.
  11. When using the diesel pump water was available only twice per week but now the water is supplied daily from 4pm to 6pm every day. This has enabled the households to increase water storage containers and also reduce wastage of water.
  12. Some women have used the water to grow tree seedlings which they have eventually transferred to their farms thus contributing towards environmental conservation.
  13. Since the women are in charge of the collection of the money, there has been an increase in revenue from the project, transparency and accountability.