Okook Young Farmer’s Group members and residents of Okook village in Amukura West Ward, Busia County are enjoying access to clean water for domestic and livestock use, after the county government drilled a borehole for them. This is after the residents took an initiative to demand construction of that had been delayed for one year.
Residents had suffered a lot in search of water: they had been travelling for an average of seven kilometres to and fro to seek for water from rivers and springs, along winding mountainous and thicketed paths. This situation posed a security risk to them, as they had to walk for long and treacherous distances in search of the commodity. Many cases of snake bites along the thickets were reported. In addition, women were exposed to rape, as they had to wake up as early as 3am to fetch clean water. For example, in the neighbouring Chakol North Ward, some men waylaid and raped two women at Soromit Village in Apegei Location of Chakol North Ward in wee hours of the morning, as they walked to fetch water from a river. In addition, the long distance covered by the residents to look for water made them tired; hence they were unable to perform other chores at home. This is because a lot of time was consumed in search of water for both domestic and animal use. This further contributed to the low participation in livelihoods activities; since most labour in the fields is provided mostly by women and youth.
This dire situation resulted in residents, through Okook Young Farmers Group, to make a delegation to the office of the ward administrator, to seek the construction of a borehole in the area which had been factored in the approved budget in the Financial Year 2016/2017. The residents decided to take this action after acquiring civic knowledge and realising that the water project was supposed to have been implemented in the previous financial year. The essence of the delegation was to understand why the project was not implemented during the stated period, lack of implementation status report to the public and to find out if budget virement (an administrative transfer of funds from one part of a budget to another) was done as this sometimes has also been reported in the county.
This move resulted in the speedy construction of the borehole in the village to ease water problems. The construction of the borehole started late October 2017 and was completed, a month later. The delegation and resultant construction of the borehole were triggered by the provision of civic knowledge to members of Okook Young Farmer’s group on role of citizens’ participation in monitoring the implementation of projects, and demanding accountability, rights of citizens to access water service as articulated in article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
Peter Otwani, 28, a resident of Okook sub location in Amukura West Ward, took part in civic education training sessions in October 2017 for four weeks provided by Community Empowerment and Development Centre (CEDC) civic educator in Amukura West Ward. The borehole is only 300 metres from Otwani’s home.
“I attended four sessions of civic education with Okook Young Farmers’ Group and what touched me was the right to access to clean and safe water as stated in Article 43 (d) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. It made me understand the need to demand for my rights and the entire community,” says Otwani. He adds: “We have been suffering inaccessibility to clean water in this area. For example, a middle-aged woman was bitten by a snake, while fetching water from a river. This incident made me choose to be part of the delegation to the office of the ward administrator to demand for our right.”
Nancy Amukaga, 36, a resident of Okook village, says her livelihood has improved due to availability of water. Amukaga’s home is merely 200 metres from the borehole.
“Since the completion of this borehole, I have been able to have a thriving kitchen garden, which is providing me with vegetables for both domestic and commercial purposes. This was not as before when I used to walk long distances in search of water. I am particularly grateful to the ward administrator for fast tracking the installation of a water pump, as this has improved my family’s livelihood,” says Amukaga, a mother of four.
Community members fetch water from the borehole in Okook village, Busia County