Malaa community is located in Tulimani, deep in Mbooni West Makueni County, around 75km from the large and vast Nairobi capital center. This community of roughly 1300 residents has for the past years been tackling a great challenge-water shortage. Makueni County is largely arid and semi-arid area and Is usually prone to frequent droughts. The lower side, which Mbooni is located, is very dry and receives little rainfall ranging from 300mm to 400mm annually.
“Water is our greatest problem here in Makueni. We decided to set up a water committee to deliberate on this challenge and how to address it especially with both Malaa primary and secondary which are in the same compound greatly affected with the lack of water.” shares the area chief, Damaris Kyule. Malaa Mixed Secondary School has a boarding wing and of the 260 student population, 50% of the students board within the school. The closest water source for the school population and larger community is the Chanzuki dam which is often contaminated with dirt. Additionally, the small spring in the village is seasonal therefore posing a competition for the resource from the community.
“We decided to call for a harambee to pull resources for the borehole but we were met with a challenge from the stakeholders based on the fact that they thought they did not have the capacity to raise the required KES 2.4M for the project. This was a mindset issue we needed to change.” Quips Charles Munyao, Secretary of the water committee and Project Manager of Malaa Self Help Group.
Malaa Self Help Group, a nascent organization registered in August 2014, applied for KCDF’s call for proposal under the Pamoja4Change programme. P4C is a KCDF administered competitive grant scheme for Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and other qualified civil society organizations with unique project ideas for community development. The main objective of this matching grant is to promote, through local giving, sustainable community driven projects which in turn build self-reliance and encourage positive development processes.
Malaa Community Self Help Group’s mandate is through organized efforts, initiate development projects in the community. For them, one of their key priorities for the community was to find solutions to the perennial water shortage in the area. Additionally, prioritize to drive the community’s agenda around reforestation and ensure access to clean energy for every household in Malaa Community. The matching grant being a new concept to the community, took a bit of time to be accepted as a model that is viable. All became possible after a two day training conducted by two KCDF staff at Malaa SGH offices. The training exposed the representatives to case stories and simple fundraising strategies that they could adapt to meet the obligation.
“After the training we realized we had to come up with an effective strategy to persuade the community in raising these much needed funds. Our first approach was the two school heads, of which the principals are part of the water committee.” adds Charles. “We had to use the students to approach the parents in raising awareness of the importance of raising money towards the borehole project. Over the years beginning 2013, the number of students who board has increased. The girls started boarding in 2013 then we later set up a dorm for the boys in 2015 hence the urgent need for the school to have consistent water supply.” says Timothy Mutavi, Principal of Malaa Mixed Secondary School.
Through the two school heads, the committee was able to rally the support of students and teachers for the project. Charles would then walk to households to explain the concept of the 50:50 matching fund to parents as well as the Malaa AIC church. Malaa SHG was then able to rally other key stakeholders such as the Water Services Trust Fund as well as commitment from the County government towards the project. The fundraising event was then scheduled and held within the school compound and the community was able to raise the required half KES 1.2M.
“Our fundraising strategy really bore fruit as WSTF gave KES 1M and the County donated tanks and pipes worth KES 500,000 and they did the piping from the borehole to the schools. We also approached professionals who come from Malaa and are based in Nairobi to support the initiative by either making cash donations or helping to mobilize for more support.” adds Charles. The community was excited to see what their local fundraising efforts yielded and even volunteered to give their time and labor through digging of trenches and laying the access pipes.
The Water Services Trust Fund funded the project through their CSR arm. “The aspect of addressing water and sanitation while co-financing impressed us. We received an application from the committee and we followed up with a site visit to assess the need.” shares Rosaita Mbukua, the Chief Manager Resource Mobilisation and Cooperate Affairs of WSTF.
With everything going on schedule, the community was ready to commission the borehole for use. “I want to thank the partners and community. We are happy and we are thankful for bringing water to this community. Development begins when communities take initiative. It demonstrates that they are empowered to solve their own needs therefore; we thank the partners for acting as a catalyst in helping us meet our needs. That unity is encouraging and we must continue to encourage it for the betterment of our communities.” Governor Kivutha Kibwana echoed as he officially commissioned the borehole project.
The second phase of the project is going to address sustainability of the borehole for long term use. The committee agrees that they will charge the KES 3 for every 20 liters to members of the community. “For now it is free but we need to look at the longevity of the project for it to benefit an even larger community. The schools have already started the process of placing water meters and we will charge outside members through a water kiosk.” adds Charles.