Residents of Aukot Village in Ngaremara ward, Isiolo County now have a major reason to smile following the successful completion of the only water project in the area, courtesy of the Kenya Red Cross Society and Nestle-Kenya.
The project was financed by Nestle Kenya to the tune of Sh 11 Million and implemented by the Kenya Red Cross.
According to the Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General Dr Asha Mohamed, the project which entails a borehole, raised water storage tanks, solar powered pump and a water kiosk will benefit at least 8,000 people from Aukot and the neighbouring Aregae village who used to risk their lives fetching water from Buffalo Springs game reserve, sharing Isiolo river with all manner of wild animals.
Locals hailed the project as life changing, having reduced the distance that women used to travel to the Buffalo Springs Game Reserve and back, a distance of ten kilometers in search of water.
Martin Lerai, a local youth noted that apart from bringing water close to the people, the project will also go a long way towards averting tribal conflicts which usually arose when Turkana and Samburu Community herders met inside the game reserve while in search of water for their livestock.
He however appealed for more help in terms of piping in order to ensure that those still far away from the water kiosk also access the water at closer proximity, arguing that some people will still need to cover more than a kilometer to access the new water source.
Pauline Ekeno, another resident of Aukot village said that locals can now observe proper hygiene and keep off dirty water that they used to share with wild animals, therefore reducing the risk of contracting water-borne diseases which had become very common in the area.
She further added that villagers can now afford a bath and wash their dishes more regularly, unlike before.
Michail Lotome, a village elder noted because of the water project livestock can now graze closer to the village, while locals are also encouraged to venture into farming to improve food security, arguing that the soil in the area was very fertile.
The Managing Director, Nestle Kenya Ng’entu Njeru who presided over the official opening ceremony said that the company was convinced to support the project, following an assessment showing that drought was accelerating in nine counties, with Isiolo as one of the most affected.
With help from the Red Cross and the County government of Isiolo, they were able to conduct an impact assessment and identified Aukot village as one of the neediest, hence the commitment to complete the project to cushion the locals against the ongoing drought situation.
Isiolo County CEC in charge of Water, Environment and Sanitation Josephine Eregae lauded the Kenya Red Cross and Nestle Kenya for complementing efforts by the County Government geared towards ensuring access to clean water for all.
She said that the devolved government will work with the organisations to ensure that piping is done to bring the water even closer to those who are still far from the operational water kiosk.
Each of the 1,000 households that are expected to benefit from the project will only be charged Sh 100, every month, money that will cater for maintenance costs of the project.
Dr Asha appealed to the local community members to own the project and guard it, since it now belongs to them and not the Red Cross or Nestle Kenya.