Four Water projects serving over 6,000 community members within Solai Location of Rongai Sub-County are set to be cushioned against vandalism and theft after an insurance company moved in to underwrite equipment and installations at boreholes and pumping stations.
The water supply machinery owned by Chepkulul, Tuiyotich, Marina and Mbogoini Community projects operating under the umbrella Wema Water Users Association (WWUA) will enjoy the package that also covers damages caused by burglary, political violence and acts of terrorism.
WWUA chairman Joseph Ongori said the joint venture between the community, Britam Insurance Company and World Vision was a relief to the residents as Solai Location is water scarce and that whenever borehole water supply systems break down women and children have to walk long distances to get alternative sources of water.
“When equipment fail community members are forced to part with Sh. 500,000 upwards to cater for replacements or repairs, and some of water projects have collapsed altogether as community members are unable to raise funds for repairs.
The new innovation which is the first one of its kind in the country now takes off the burden of replacing expensive water supply equipment and guarantees us a regular and adequate supply of clean and safe water,” said Ongori.
He stated that Chepkulul, Tuiyotich, Marina and Mbogoini Community Water projects have already paid the annual premiums of Sh. 62,353, Sh. 22,435, Sh. 15,070 and Sh. 19,227 respectively.
The premium rates he said were lower than what it normally costs them to finance repairs or replacement of malfunctioning components of water projects.
With an assurance of consistent water supply, Ongori said community members have ventured into fruit and vegetable farming through irrigation and bee keeping.
“Children can now concentrate on their studies, while women will have enough time to engage in income generating activities. Men will also be able to start entrepreneurial activities that largely rely on water such as brick making, farming and Tree Nurseries,” noted the WWUA Chairman.
The underwriter’s General Manager Daniel Muriungi Mugao said the newly unveiled cover seeks to shield rural communities from inconveniences caused by failure of borehole pumps, generators, power systems, mortars and boosters that are critical components of community water supply projects.
“We are working closely with World Vision, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Sanitation and the County Government of Nakuru in initially rolling out the product in Solai Location within Rongai Sub-County. It will further cater for repair or replacement of solar panels, control panels, sine waves, wiring systems, power breakers and voltage surge protectors.
When the components of community water source break down, the insurer will move in quickly to finance repairs or replacement of malfunctioning parts.We have come up with premiums which rural communities can afford. We want them to be protected from hazards posed by unprotected water sources which may expose them to diseases,” stated Mugao.
Mugao said that the insurance product had been generated by World Vision that has been financing water supply projects in several rural parts of the country.
He said the product had been fashioned to shield communities from resorting to untreated surface water, unprotected wells and springs whenever water supply systems breakdown.
“World Vision commissioned a study which established that many water projects established by the state, Non-Governmental Organisations and Community Based Organisations failed after two to three years of operation. The nature of the failure was usually as a result of breakdown of pumps or powering systems which communities found too expensive to repair or replace,” said the General Manager.
Engineer Fred Marangu from the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Sanitation said prompt intervention by the insurance whenever rural water supply projects fail will ensure that communities are not exposed to long periods without access to the precious commodity.
“It is government policy to ensure that every Kenyan has access to adequate supply of clean and safe water. We are supporting all interventions that will ensure that communities especially women and children do not walk long distances to get alternative sources of water.
Breakdown of water supply systems has always led to poor hygiene resulting in diseases, loss of productive time for income generation activities and learning for school children” observed Engineer Marangu.
“We will be encouraging community based water projects in other areas to take in equipment insurance. Even though it hasn’t been easy, especially for the rural communities, we ask underwriters to tailor-make cheaper packages for them.
Though a majority of them lacks the knowledge on insurance and the means to pay the premiums, they need to be enlightened that consistent and adequate supply of water contributes to both a healthy nation and food security” he said.
Engineer Marangu observed that by building an awareness of the role of insurance and providing strategies for risk mitigation, the joint collaboration between World Vision, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Sanitation, the insurer and the County Government of Nakuru will support the development of a long-term “insurance-friendly” population.
Associate Director for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for World Vision Enock Oruko said the product is designed to also cover breakages and damages that may occur due to fire, burglary, machinery breakdown.
“Most water projects usually function well when they are still being managed by the state agencies and nongovernmental organizations and donors that supported their establishment. Once they are handed to communities many collapse as beneficiaries are unable to afford maintenance costs including repairs or replacement of malfunctioning parts,” said Oruko.
He said the premium money will be generated from revenue realized by Water User Committees after they sell the commodity.Nakuru County Director for Water and Irrigation Engineer Johnson Kamau said the devolved unit’s administration had disbursed Sh.32million to bolster and improve operations of community based water projects in the region.
He noted that the latest Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) report indicated that 40 percent of rural households relied on non-improved sources of drinking water.
“The sustainability of rural water projects will go a long way in promoting Universal access to safe and clean water that is within easy reach for communities,” stated Engineer Kamau.
He observed that 40 percent of rural households spend an average of 30 minutes or more per trip to obtain drinking water which made it hard for communities to engage in income generating activities.
By Anne Mwale