A tripartite pact has been reached between County Government of Turkana, Oxfam and Epicenter Africa to keep sixty (60) rural water schemes reliably functional, through timely undertaking of preventive and curative repair works for the next 15 months.
The agreement was signed in Lodwar by Deputy Governor, Peter Lotethiro, for the County, Mary Njue (Epicenter Africa) and Irene Gai for Oxfam International in the presence of County Solicitor, Ruth Emanikor.
Lotethiro who is also the Acting County Executive (CEC) member for Water Services, Environment and Mineral Resources, explained that the agreement would ensure quick return to functionality after borehole breakdown, by reducing the turnaround time for repairs for the thousands who depend on the infrastructures for water access.
The County Water Boss said that the agreement had fulfilled section 94 (2) and (3) of the Water Act 2016, which requires the County Government to ensure Rural Water Schemes that are not commercially viable, still get access to water services just like the urban Schemes.
Lotethiro advised Epicenter Africa to make use of the local Water Management Committees of the respective Schemes, in order to succeed in their endeavours.
“I am aware that the sixty schemes covered by the agreement are spread across five (5) Sub-counties of Loima, Turkana Central, Turkana West, Turkana South and Turkana North as a pilot Phase from which data will be generated to inform future scale-up to all rural Schemes across the County,” remarked Lotethiro.
Chief Officer, Moses Natome, who witnessed the signing of the MOU, noted that the agreement was possible due to community and County Government Consultative process, as well as through competitive bidding process from which Epicenter Africa emerged victorious from a list of five other competitors.
Chief Natome divulged that a recent Water Audit Report against all the 1,800 boreholes across the County had revealed that 40% of the Rural Water Schemes were not functioning due to failure in providing routine maintenance operations.
Director for Water Services, Tito Ochieng’, explained that the plan envisioned by the pact was equivalent to investment of a seed fund, through which management of Individual Water Schemes, would grow their revenue for future expansion and learn valuable lessons.
Irene Gai, the WASH Strategist for Oxfam in Kenya, underscored the organizations’ long-term commitment in supporting the County Government to set up sustainable models for engagement of professional and experienced private sector in managing rural water schemes.
Gai added that the involvement of a private operator as part of the pact for the undertaking of O&M services is part of the accepted reforms in the water sector that has been embraced by Oxfam International and partly funded by Partnership for Green Growth (P4G) initiative and jointly implemented by Oxfam International, Grundfos Limited and Lefil consulting.
The Oxfam WASH strategist said that the model proposed by the pact had the potential to safeguard the rural water schemes from shocks arising from drought and other emergencies.
Mary Njue, the CEO of Epicenter Africa said that the organization had operated in the water sector, particularly in ASAL areas of Kenya, including Turkana over the last ten years and promised to leverage on that experience to successfully deliver the project.
By Peter Gitonga