For quite a long time, the residents of Kwa Jeki in Mtwapa in Kilifi County have been suffering from lack of sufficient water.  The available water was difficult to access; it was also costly and in little quantities, most of the time.  In addition, the onset of a drought spell meant more limited water access and longer walking distance for women and school-going children.  In short, the women, children and the youth were the hardest hit by this constant challenge of getting water in sufficient quantities.  Ms. Teresia Kahindi, fondly known as Terry, hails from this village. And she too was no exception to the water woes in Kwa Jeki village. However, her resilience and resourcefulness came alive and even more strengthened when she encountered Hakimani Centre, who were in town for their project on Climate Smart Water Governance.

Hakimani Centre was in town to carry out a two-year project on climate change with water access as an entry point.  Hakimani project team carried out a number of intervention activities[1] aimed at building and shoring-up community resilience and changing community behavior in the face of the challenges of climate change.

After attending the various interventions, Ms Terry happily surprised everyone, both at Hakimani and at her village.  She took it upon herself to face, in her own small ways, the constant water challenges faced by her community given the climate change variability. She embarked on community behavior change campaign.  She first reached out to a youth group of 17 young people who belonged to culture, art & sports association called New Visionaries Arts Group.  For over three times, Terry met the initial members of this youth group during the groups’ meetings.

[1] Hakimani Centre carried out, at the time (February – April 2018), the following activities: sensitization, capacity building, rain-water harvesting, water re-usage, and water management, water dialogue the youth, household water reservoir campaigns. Ms Terry took part in these trainings, workshops and activities, as she was a direct beneficiary.

After attending the various interventions, Ms Terry happily surprised everyone, both at Hakimani and at her village.  She took it upon herself to face, in her own small ways, the constant water challenges faced by her community given the climate change variability. She embarked on community behavior change campaign.  She first reached out to a youth group of 17 young people who belonged to culture, art & sports association called New Visionaries Arts Group.  For over three times, Terry met the initial members of this youth group during the groups’ meetings.

During those meetings, she managed to share her knowledge and learning outcomes with the youth from Hakimani’s project interventions that she was part and parcel of. She shared with them the climate change information and how water access is one area that has been hard hit by the climate variability; she also taught the group members the importance of resilient water-use and management such as rain-water harvesting, water re-usage mechanisms, importance of conserving trees, and rediscovering traditional approaches on the harmonious existence with the nature around us.

Then the groups took this new challenge and turned the various ideas and concepts learned into cultural activities, artistic expressions, song and dance.  And under her guidance, the New Visionaries Art Group went around the village using art, sports and music and dance to pass on the education they received from Ms Terry. According to Ms Terry, the group chose to use the CAS (culture, art & sport) approach, since they realized that the community in Kwa Jeki appreciates drama, spoken word, song & dance, and other art-oriented activities. Through CAS approach, the group incorporated water management educational messages to increase community’s knowledge about water conservation, create favorable attitudes on water re-usage as well as change overt behaviors on water management.

The New Visionaries Arts Group was emboldened enough to approach the local administration, Chief Rose Kabibi[2] and mama mtaa, Zeinab Omar, for direction on organizing community outreach programs to spread the message on water management in the village in the face of the climate variability experienced at the moment. Following a series of consultations with the administration, the group has organized three outreaches reaching close to 200 community members. In the outreaches, the group hired public address system and took up DJ and MC[3] roles as they used scenario building, skits and poems to reach the populace.

Among the beneficiaries of Terry’s knowledge and passion was one, Mr. Peter Mandela Safari (a youth from Kwa Jeki village). As a result of the knowledge and training gained from Ms. Terry’s visits and meetings, Mandela sensitized his father and mother (Mr. and Mrs. Safari respectively) on rain-water harvesting, water re-usage, and general household water management.

Thankfully, the parents heeded his call: they fitted gutters on the roof of their house in Kwa Jeki (Mtwapa); they bought a water-tank of 210 liters to harvest rain water; and they hatched a plan to invest in a bigger tank for more storage of water than what they can store now. The water collected is used for drinking, cooking and other domestic uses. On his part, Mandela planted pawpaw and lemon grass, using used-water such as water for rinsing cutlery. These plants are grown within the homestead. According to Peter Mandela, before his intervention his family would just let the roof rain water flow freely or go to waste. The family did not collect or reserve any rain-water or re-use water. They just did not have this knowledge at the household levels.

Mr. Mandela fetching harvested water at their homestead in Kwa Jeki in Mtwapa, Kilifi South Sub-county

Mandela – “Before getting the knowledge on roof rain water harvesting, we used to let the water flow because it never occurred to us whether we could utilize the water like we do now. So, after my interaction with Terry and attending a meeting organized by Hakimani I requested my parents to fit gutters, buy a modest tank as well as plan to increase water storage containers in the future.  I am glad all these have come to pass. We use the harvested water for domestic use and once treated we also drink it and use it for cooking. We are now planning to increase our water tank from 210 litres to 1000 litres so that we can increase our storage.”