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World Bank initiative fills water pans

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A recent World Bank initiative has filled the water pans in an extremely dry region of Kenya. More than 1000 villagers, mostly women, is set to benefit. Image credit: UNICEF

A recent World Bank initiative has filled the water pans in an extremely dry region of Kenya. More than 1000 villagers is set to benefit.

Recently constructed water pans in around the village of Bilig in Kenya will make it possible for more than 1000 villagers to have access to affordable water for themselves and their livestock. The water pans, which collect and store rainwater, is part of the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP), a core program under the North and North Eastern Development Initiative. Lack of access to safe and affordable water is among the major constraints to improving the livelihoods of pastoral communities in Wajir country.

Before the pans were installed, water came at a relatively high cost for this community. For decades, women and girls in Wajir—a sweltering, water-scarce county—have trekked daily for long distances and insecure routes in search of water. On a good day, they would get the precious commodity from water boozers, vehicles with tanks that supply water to remote areas.

Wajir County is one of 10 counties benefitting from the USD1-billion World Bank-funded North and North Eastern Development Initiative (NEDI), which aims to reduce development gaps in the region. KCSAP is a core NEDI program focused on increasing agricultural productivity and building resilience to climate change for Kenya’s smallholder farmers and pastoral communities.

“The KCSAP provides a great opportunity for the communities and county governments to make specific investments like these that will have a sustainable impact on the livelihoods of farmers and pastoralists,” says Vinay Kumar Vutukuru, World Bank Task Team Leader. “It’s heartening to see resilience shown by the communities during this concurrent crisis of the COVID-19 and the locust attack as they continue to leverage the KCSAP project to enhance their livelihoods.

The Tawakal Water Pan was constructed in 2019 with a water harvesting capacity of nearly 45000m3 at a total cost of about USD170 000 to ensure water availability for domestic and livestock use especially during the dry seasons.

The pan serves more than 1000 direct beneficiaries, of which 50% are female, who now have water within close reach for themselves and an estimated 9500 livestock.

In addition to allowing easier access to water for domestic and livestock use, some additional benefits of the water pan include:

  • Available water at minimum cost
  • Girls are concentrating on full-time schooling and women have opened food kiosks near the water pan to sell food to the herders who bring animals to drink water
  • Livestock productivity has been enhanced due to the reduced distance to the watering point – two kilometers from 30km
  • Increased enrollment of children in the local primary school
  • Harvesting of the surface water run-off has reduced flash floods
  • The water pan contributes to building the resilience of the people of Biliq village to climatic shocks

To sustain the water pan, a community-led management committee charges a small fee for the livestock taking water from the Tawakal water pan. The fee helps with maintenance, such as desilting the inlet and other works. The Biliq community has been trained to undertake catchment protection activities to ensure longer term water harvesting and minimize siltation into the pan.

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