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Thousands benefit from rehabilitated boreholes in Turkana 

Approximately 30,000 individuals have regained access to water following the completion of a yearlong drought emergency response programme where 15 boreholes were rehabilitated in Turkana North and South.

The programme was carried out by a Non-governmental Organisation, Peace Winds Japan, in collaboration with the County Department of Water Services, with funding from the government of Japan through UNICEF Kenya.

Chief Officer for Water Services, David Maraka, said that besides borehole rehabilitation efforts, the programme distributed reusable pads for menstrual hygiene, water fetching and storage jerricans, water treatment aquatabs, and constructed toilet facilities in four schools within the project area.

Thousands benefit from Peace Winds Japan borehole Rehabilitation Programme in Turkana North and South. Photo by Peter Gitonga

Maraka said water point management teams were also trained to enhance the adoption of good governance practices.

Speaking during an inspection tour of the project, Maraka urged the management of the water points to consider acquiring borehole breakdown insurance services provided by Lodwar Caritas to safeguard against potential setbacks that may reverse the progress achieved.

“We understand that Turkana is heavily reliant on boreholes, and any disruptions or mechanical issues with these boreholes significantly impact the residents. Through our collaboration with Peace Winds Japan, we successfully rehabilitated 15 boreholes, reconnecting more than 30,000 individuals to water  access,” said Maraka.

The rehabilitation efforts included upgrading hand pumps to solar systems, replacing submersible pumps, adding solar panels, repairing storage and distribution tanks, and unclogging waterways to remove blockages in the supply system.

Acknowledging that Turkana possesses over 1000 boreholes that could sustainably provide water for various purposes, Chief Officer Maraka highlighted that a majority of them are non-functional due to breakdowns and mechanical issues.

“We traced the breakdowns to drought. When some boreholes dried up due to the falling water table, the remaining boreholes were under pressure to serve the increased populations, hence leading to breakdowns from overuse,” he explained.

Maraka commended Peace Winds Japan for their innovative approach to rehabilitating existing water systems, providing instant results, and reconnecting users to water supply without the need for drilling new boreholes.

The County WASH Coordinator for Peace Winds Japan, Trizabel Oliwa, said that the programme was part of the UNICEF-led emergency drought response measure targeting vulnerable communities in the Horn of Africa negatively affected by climate change.

“The intention was to increase access to water, improving general hygiene and sanitation,” she said.

Noting that all 15 boreholes had been rehabilitated as scheduled, she said the work began with thorough data and evidence-informed assessments of the areas to inform targeting. “The data reviewed was sourced from the county and sub-county-level water offices, while the additional primary data was collected through intensive one-on-one conversations with key informants,” she remarked.

Oliwa further divulged that the intervention included water quality checks, the issuance of assessment equipment to the sub-county water officers to facilitate repairs, and a software bit of training both the community and the beneficiary schools on WASH compliance and sustainability.

At Kanaodon, Lydia Ekaale, a young woman residing in the area, confirmed the positive impact of the intervention. She recounted how they used to walk for more than five kilometres to search for water and the suffering during that period.

“The Kanaodon project has relieved us from the suffering. As a community, we even benefited from a pipeline extension that brought water to our doorsteps instead of having to travel,” she said.

On menstrual and general body hygiene, Ekaale narrated her personal struggles as well as the struggles of all the girls in the area. She, however, expressed joy at the transformation afforded by the rehabilitation program.

A middle-aged resident of Kanaodon, Moses Ewoton, could not help but take us through history. He narrated that the area’s only water source was the river Turkwell, which he described as unclean.

The narrative changed in 2017 when the first borehole was drilled. However, the joy was short-lived after the borehole suffered disrepair, thus cutting out the people who had been connected to its supply lines.

“When Peace Winds rehabilitated the borehole, we were relieved. We have more time for work, to attend to our farms, and to send our children to school.”

At Nayane Ekalale, a story similar to that of Moses Ewoton is repeated by the area’s water supply chairperson.

By Peter Gitonga

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