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  • Jul 30, 2017
  • by PACIDA

In a bid to improve water access through improved management practices, the Strengthening Community Resilience (SCRMC)in Marsabit County project, implemented by Pastoralist Community Initiative and Development Assistance (PACIDA) and Caritas Marsabit with the support of Food for the Hungry- Kenya (FH-K) and funding from USAID/OFDA has introduced the first ever pre-paid communal water system in Marsabit County.

PACIDA, who is implementing the pre-paid meter component has identified and is working with communities in four (4) locations across the county to introduce the new technology. To date, two water kiosks (Shauri Yako and Saku in Marsabit Town) have been installed with the pre-paid meters and the Kiosk at Saku is operational. Beneficiaries have seen this intervention as more reliable, bringing more water closer to people, contributing to improved health and well-being by reducing the burden on women and enabling them to engage their time more productively.

The Saku Water Kiosk is run by Saku Welfare Group for Disabled which brings together thirty two (32, 15 W, 17 M). This group has been contracted by the County Water Department to run the kiosk towards improving their socio-economic welfare. The chairman of the Group Mr. Ali Godana says that the past system was hijacked by a cartel that purchased water for sale at the expense of the poor.
“In fact, when the idea of a pre-paid water system was initiated, the cartels strongly opposed it. Interestingly as the management, we have noted that the system has fostered peaceful co-existence amongst communities as it has enhanced accountability. It has also boosted our daily revenue collection as we are now attracting more than 100% of revenue we used to previously collect an approximate Kshs. 3,000 but we are now collecting up to Kshs.9,000,” says Mr. Godana.

Hadija Ali is one happy water user: “Previously, the waiting time was as long as 7 hours. Many are the times we went home without water due to lack of transparency and fairness. Currently, every individual is able to collect up to 10 -23 Litre jerry cans (230 litres) after 2 weeks.” Water in Marsabit town is a gem, with water vendors retailing a 23 L jerry can at KES 50( $ 0.5) which escalates to up to KES 100 ($ 1.0) during the drought seasons. Although the water at the kiosk is highly rationed, beneficiaries pay only KES 5 ($ 0.05) for a 23 liters jerry can, which is substantial relief to the currently registered 9,938 beneficiaries. Before the installation of the pre-paid water meter, communities would fetch water to as late as 8.00 pm due to congestion and unfair competition. Now though, the water kiosk is closed by 6.00 pm, as there is more order and transparency. Water users get services on a first come, first served basis, provided their water tokens are loaded with enough water credit, which is also done at the kiosk. Unlike in the past, the committee does not have to be physically present to supervise the water sale as the system is automated. This has enabled members to have sufficient time to engage in other productive ventures including sale of water tokens.

The prepaid meter system is a melting point of collaboration between various partners, programs and donors. While the SCRMC project invested in the soft components with a focus on improved management, the Kenya Resilient Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development (Kenya RAPID) Project implemented by FH Kenya with funding from USAID and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) revamped the water supply infrastructure (pipeline, 27m3 elevated tank and kiosks) serving both Saku and Shauri Yako Kiosks. The County Government of Marsabit provides the day to day technical support and oversight to the system, while a private sector player Maji Milele Ltd runs the pre-paid meter technology. This public private partnership has been integral to the success of this project. For Mr. Godana the Saku Welfare Group for Disabled chairman, the system has further enhanced the relationship with the County Department of Water as the Self Help Group can now pay water bills in a timelier manner. Marsabit town water users fetching from the Saku automated, prepaid kiosk.

PACIDA’s Strengthening Community Based Resilience Project Manager, Mr. George Guyo is awed by how the system has turned out to work effectively: “On behalf of PACIDA and the communities we are working with, I wish to extend my gratefulness to USAID/ OFDA and FH-Kenya who made us shine on this new technology. Many thanks too, to Maji Milele Ltd who has made it possible supporting us to set up this system.”