The scramble for water from the few and almost drying water pans in most parts of Kilifi County has led to a new formula, where those seeking for water have to work before fetching water for their domestic use.
As the drought bites in the County which has no reliable water supply system to serve the residents with clean water, over 80 per cent of them have to rely on water pans and water ponds as the rivers dry up.
Residents of Tsangatsini, Kayafungo and Mwanamwinga locations in Kaloleni Sub County have unanimously agreed to adopt the Water-For-Work system to expand their pans, which have been silting for years after they were constructed by the government through various agencies coordinated by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).
They have been using the youth to dig up the sites for the pan expansion, as women who turn up for water, collect the soil and dump it away to create more space for water storage while waiting for the long rains to begin.
The Chairman of Mulungu wa Rero water pan in Mwanamwinga location, Mr Chengo Kahaso told KNA that those seeking water and feel they cannot carry off the soil to its required place have the option of paying Sh20 to the youth so that they can get lunch.
“The youth are doing the work voluntarily and we have noticed that majority of the residents are supporting them by giving them something to buy lunch in return for the good work they are performing. Siltation over time has caused most water pans to become shallow and cannot store large volumes of water,” he said.
Chengo said those with livestock who have nowhere to water them are giving a boost to the youth as they give more money so that they can fetch the water for their animals to drink, adding that most water pans which were made for animals have already dried up.
“We have adopted the system of Water-For-Work to expand our pans as we are not sure when both the County and National governments are coming to rehabilitate our shallow water pans having been caused by siltation. We have to help ourselves before asking for support,” he said.
Chengo revealed that most water pans in the area were constructed between the year 2000 and 2010 and have since then not been rehabilitated and when the rains fail to come early, most of them end up drying.
A women leader in the area Dama Kazungu said most women are in agreement with the Water-For-Work Programme as it aims at providing capacity for huge volumes of water to the pans when it rains.
She said the women are always hard hit by the drought every year when the rains fail to come in good time as they are the ones involved in fetching water for domestic use.
“We fully support this programme and we are the ones who initiated it so that we can increase the volumes of water when it rains. The jobless youth are doing a good job for us women since our men expect us to fetch water both for cooking and for them to bathe,” she said.
She said the County government of Kilifi promised to rehabilitate their water pans three years ago but have been nowhere to be seen while the Ganze-Palakumi – Mwijo water pipeline managed by Kilifi –Mariakani Water Services Company (KIMAWASCO) has remained dry for the past two years.
“Our only reliable sources of water as residents is the water pans which are within the proximity of between 1 and 2 kilometers from us. We cannot allow these water pans to continue declining due to siltation as they are our main sources of water,” she said.
Dama added that villagers within the pans have been preparing food for the youth involved in digging the pans for expansion so that they can get courage to work in the scotching sun.
She dismissed a few villagers who have been opposed to the programme with allegations that they are already burdened with other work like land preparation ahead of the coming rains, saying expanding the pans is for their own good.
By Harrison Yeri