Kenya farmer

Water Access Improves Lives, Farms, Incomes

Photo by Mikaele Sansone

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“We used to fetch water quite a distance away – 7 kilometers (4 miles) one way. Our children did not go to school because they were dirty since we had no clean water. Now they are able to go to school.”

Monica, a farmer and mother in a remote village in Isiolo county, Kenya, explains how one borehole, a water tank and a group of solar panels have impacted her, her family and her community. CRS and its partners, through the Kenya Resilient Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development Program, or Kenya-RAPID, drilled a borehole and then installed the water tank and solar panels, creating a solar pumping system to provide clean water for the community to drink, cook, wash, irrigate land and sustain livestock.

collecting water in Kenya

Children from the village pour water from a water kiosk to carry back to their families. Each household pays $1 per month for their water supply and can collect 32 gallons of water daily. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

The village now has four water kiosks from which they can access clean water. Instead of walking upwards of 9 miles a day to fetch water, Monica now walks a quarter of a mile to the closest kiosk. She uses the water to bathe her children and send them to school, for her family to drink and use in cooking, and for her farm.

“It was difficult for livestock to access water and [to have water] for our homes. Before, we had water that was dirty and had waterborne diseases. Now we are able to drink clean water. Because of the water, people can grow their vegetables, and our livestock are able to access water.”

Monica proudly shows off her plot of land where she grows onions she can sell at local markets. The water tank and hoses allow Monica and other farmers in her village to irrigate their crops even during the dry season, which seems to get longer and more damaging each year. At the mercy of the sun, rain and unpredictable weather patterns, the men and women in this village work day after day tilling their small farms, hoping to grow enough onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and other foods to feed their families.

With help from CRS and the Attir water project, supported by USAID, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and private donations, Monica and others have been able to increase their harvests and sell produce locally to make extra income. Income that can be used to buy food, pay school fees, buy livestock and extra seed for their farms to diversify and strengthen their income.

CRS and partners installed a well, water tank and solar pumping system so the rural community in Isiolo county, Kenya can access clean water. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

Another community member, Philip, supports his wife and four children through his tomato plants. He hopes to use his additional income to expand his farm.

“I’m expecting to harvest my tomatoes and make $1,000 from the sales. I will save the cash and use it to buy onion seeds, pesticides and herbicides, and [more land] to extend my farm.”

Each household pays $1 a month for their water supply and can collect 32 gallons of water each day. The money is used for the maintenance of the water system in case repairs are needed, ensuring its sustainability once the Kenya RAPID project ends.

Mario manages one of the water kiosks in the community. He is thankful for what CRS and the project have provided for him and his village.

“We are happy with what CRS and Kenya RAPID have done. We have started farming very close to the homesteads. Our lifestyle has changed and we are most happy about it. This is our home.”