I spent today visiting our water projects in Naivasha, a town north-west of Nairobi with a population of around 148,000 people (of which only 50% have access to clean water).
Not only did I get to see some established water projects in two low-income settlements called Mirera and Karagita, but I also got to visit Kihoto where there is no access to clean water across the whole settlement. This experience gave me an invaluable insight into the life-giving nature of clean water, as I saw first-hand the colossal effect it has on the two communities with access to it and one without it.
I was a little apprehensive at first about walking around the low-income settlements with my photography equipment. But this soon changed as they welcomed me with open arms saying ‘karibu’ (welcome in Swahili). The people living in Mirera and Karagita were so proud of their water systems and grateful of our support, and the people in Kihoto were so vocal about their need for access to clean water, that the different community members were very happy for me to interview them on camera.
I was going to write about this experience, but I think that hearing from the locals first-hand as I have today would paint a much clearer picture of what a life with or without clean water is like.
A life without clean water in Kihoto
There are over 30,000 people living in Kihoto, all without access to clean water. These are the kind of statistics that you can’t really comprehend until you see it yourself. One of the locals called John showed me how everyone in his community collects contaminated and dirty water from a few shallow wells across the settlement. Dirty water used by the whole community, whether young or old, for all of their cooking, cleaning and drinking needs.
This only properly hit me when I met a mother called Pauline who revealed that her only option is to give her son this water every single day. He couldn’t have been more than three years old.
A life with clean water in Mirera and Karagita
There are over 25,000 people living in Mirera and Karagita, all who now have access to clean water forever. Since 2014, both settlements have been connected to a sustainable water system that provides enough clean water for the whole community. Residents who used to have to walk 4 kilometres to Lake Naivasha and 4 kilometres back just to collect dirty water can now purchase 20 litres of clean, safe water for just 5 Kenyan Shillings (4 pence) from 29 different water kiosks.
I stood outside a water kiosk for a few minutes to investigate how much the community was using them. I think this 45-second snapshot provides a pretty clear answer to that.
After some time, I managed to find a water seller called Florence who had a few minutes to talk about how life has changed since she’s been working at the water kiosk for the last three years or so.
My final interview is with a man called Jackson who I don’t think I could have left Mirera without interviewing – he wouldn’t have let me because he was so proud of the progress in his community, as he could remember a time before they had access to clean water.
I hope these short videos help to show not just how our supporters have already transformed numerous lives forever, but also how they have the opportunity to change millions more – just as I’ve experienced and seen in these communities today. I’m also very proud to reveal that one of our new water projects in partnership with Co-op starts in Kihoto next month and this community should be connected to a sustainable water system with flowing taps in their homes within six months. Testament again to how lives will continue to change forever thanks to our incredible supporters like you.