BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
An estimated 150,000 people from pastoral communities, including students and teachers from six schools based in Kenya’s Baringo, Kiambu West and Laikipia districts, are to benefit from a €690,000 grant from the African Water Facility (AWF)) approved by the African Development Bank (AfDB) on Friday, July 6, 2012, says a press release issued by the African Press Organisation.
According to the release issued in Tunis August 9, 2012, the grant will support a Kenya Rainwater Association (KRA) pilot programme designed to help communities build resilience to droughts and adapt to climate change through Integrated Rainwater Harvesting Management (IRHM), with potential for greater reach in the Horn of Africa.
It said more specifically, the AWF grant will be used to finance the implementation of the pilot’s various activities in Kenya’s three semi-arid districts, including RHM infrastructure development for domestic and productive use; the utilisation of complementary water harvesting technologies to improve livelihoods and generate income; knowledge sharing between community members; and policy advocacy based on tangible benefits and impacts to encourage government and development partners to scale up at national and regional levels.
Specifically, the project will involve raising awareness in the communities on rainwater harvesting techniques to cope with extreme water, hygiene and sanitation conditions; promoting an improved water management model for improved yields and crop diversification and applying watershed conservation and rangeland rehabilitation to minimise conflict over water.
Also, it will encompass installing water tanks for roof catchment and farm ponds for surface runoff; constructing separate ventilated improved latrines for boys and girls; and promoting good hygiene practices such as hand-washing with soap before meals and after using latrines.
Commenting on the grant, Akissa Bahri, Coordinator of the African Water Facility said; “This pilot promises to help some of the most vulnerable and isolated communities better manage rainwater to reduce the known severe water stress experienced in the drylands and to achieve water security,” adding, “We hope the results will serve as reference for governments to scale up to reach more communities and improve their lives and livelihoods.”
The Kenya project is one of six case studies conducted in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda designed to evaluate the performance of rainwater harvesting systems in the region with the aim of promoting “best practices” in water management for improving water supply and food security and will be implemented by the Kenya Rainwater Association (KRA), the Government of Kenya and targeted communities.
On the other hand, the African Water Facility (AWF), an initiative of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and established in 2004, helps African countries meet the goals and targets for the water and sanitation sector set by the Millennium Development Goals 2015 and the Africa Water Vision 2025.
AWF’s mission is to mobilise resources to build the financial base necessary to multiply water projects designed to ensure water, food and energy security in Africa, in a context of sustainable and inclusive growth.