For twenty-two months, (November 2017 – September 2019), the Jesuit Hakimani Center (JHC) has been working with select Religious Leaders (RL), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and Water Service Providers (WSPs) to improve equity and fairness in water management for communities most affected by the extreme climate in Kilifi and Garissa counties. Inadequate and unreliable water access for human and livestock is a major problem in the counties of Kilifi and Garissa. Most people grapple with the shrinking volumes in water sources. This is caused by climate variability depicted in high temperatures, reduction of water volumes in water sources such as water tables and unpredictable rainfall patterns. Furthermore, it is caused by the challenges on non-compliance to the existing policies and in general water management. Specifically, there are concerns of unfair inter-county water sharing mechanisms, deficiencies in county water governance, incompatible interests among water suppliers and users and in some cases infrastructure for water storage is inadequate. Subsequently water driven conflicts are common. To address this, JHC has been advocating with and alongside select religious institutions, CSOs and local communities of the four sub counties of Kilifi North, Kilifi South, Modogashe, and Balambala to increase water accessibility.  As a result, the project has contributed to sustainable community water seeking initiatives such as household water reservoirs, reliable climate smart management of county water resources, storage, and inter county water sector collaboration with a view to enhance fair distribution.

Overview of Project

Jesuit Hakimani Centre (JHC) has been carrying out climate smart water governance project since January 2018 in Garissa and Kilifi Counties. The main objective of this project is to improve equity and fairness in water management so as to increase access for communities most affected by extreme climatic conditions in these counties. JHC intervention strategy involved collaboration with communities but specifically focusing on women, youth and religious leaders. In working with women, JHC has applied a participatory approach that empowers women to advocate for the right to access clean and reliable water supply. Water being majorly a woman’s problem in the community, JHC has endeavored to build capacity of women and subsequently encouraged them to share information with other women and members of the community on water access and climate change.

Women have been at the forefront in directly presenting their challenges in regard to access to water to the county government. This was made possible through JHC facilitated forums that involved the community, county government leaders from different departments including the speaker and members of the county assembly. In this way, the women voiced their concerns and held their leaders accountable for the promises they made in regard to provision of water to the people. For example JHC has facilitated forums between community members from Fafi, Lagdera, Garissa Township and Balambala Sub Counties in Garissa County and the speaker, members of the county assembly and staff from the county water department so that the community members could address their challenges especially in regard to water access directly to their leaders. In Kilifi County, JHC has also facilitated forums between the community members from Kaloleni, Malindi, Kilifi North and Kilifi South Sub Counties and the speaker, members of the county assembly, water service providers and water county department to address the issue of irregular and unreliable water supply including high water tariffs, connection to water supply and encroachment on indigenous forests.

JHC has enhanced the capacity of women in water access, climate change, rain water harvesting, water storage, reusage and conservation. The result has been involvement of self-help women groups in projects aimed at increasing water storage facilities in the households, rain water harvesting through installation of gutters, environmental conservation and supporting each other to access water from the water service providers.  JHC has also engaged the youth through the various youth groups in Kilifi and Garissa Counties. The engagement with youth has focused on enhancing the capacity of the youth and supporting their initiatives on climate change, water and environmental conservation. JHC has facilitated forums for youth and supported their efforts in tree planting, sensitization and creation of awareness on water conservation and rain water harvesting in Garissa County. In Kilifi County JHC has engaged the youth in initiatives aimed at cleaning the beach in Kilifi North Sub County,  sensitization on water and waste management, re usage of waste water for kitchen gardening hence income generation from sale of farm produce. After contact with JHC, youth groups have engaged in youth friendly strategies of educating the other youth on water conservation and climate change through artistic initiatives such composing songs, poems, role plays and works of art that depict the benefits of water and environmental conservation.

Religious leaders have been a beacon of the project. Religious leaders enjoy authority and credibility in the eyes of the state and the community. Their contribution to climate proofed water discourse is significant. Besides, owing to the threats, which is sometimes, directed at individual CSOs, the religious institutions act as security buffers and provide protection and sensitive security information to water networks and organizations. JHC has realized they are powerful opinion leaders and therefore incorporated them as champions of water access and climate change in the community. The religious leaders have facilitated engagements between leaders and community members and since they command respect from the leaders and the community, their voices have been influential in pushing for the implementation of various water projects in Garissa and Kilifi Counties.

This project directly targeted to reach 1000 households in a bid to promote sustainable community water seeking behaviour at the local level in Garissa and Kilifi counties. From January 2018 to March 2019, a total of 486 households in Garissa County and 452 households in Kilifi County have been reached. Furthermore, a total of 1,008 people in Garissa Township, Balambala, Fafi and Lagdera sub counties in Garissa County and a total of 1,005 people in Malindi, Kilifi North, Kaloleni and Kilifi South sub counties have benefitted directly from the meetings, trainings and workshops carried out by JHC in communities.

It is expected that approximately 2,016 people in Garissa County and 2,010 people in Kilifi County will indirectly benefit from the intervention by the end of the project. The amount of money that has been spent on the interventions from January 2018 to March 2019 in Garissa county is a total of 143,907GBP and the amount that has been spent in Kilifi county is a total of 141,101GBP making a total of 285,008 GBP which has been spent during this period of time.