PS Idris Dokota during the commissioning of Melikubwa Primary School water project in Kwale County. Accompanying him was Governor Kwale County, H.E. Fatuma Achani.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has commissioned a water project targeting a primary school and four villages in Kwale County. The project at Melikubwa Primary School in Mackinon Ward, Samburu-Kwale Subcounty was identified through a participatory drought risk assessment with the local community, which identified water scarcity as the main challenge. The project is aimed at reducing long distances covered by school-going children and women in search of water.

The project was implemented by the NDMA through technical support of the County Government of Kwale. It was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funding from the Government of Japan at a total cost of KSh 4.82 Million.

Speaking while commissioning the project, the Principal Secretary for ASALs and Regional Development, Mr. Idris Dokota, said the project is providing safe and adequate water to more than 4,600 people in Melikubwa Primary School, Oldonyo Early Childhood Development centre as well as, Mnyamalani, Melikubwa, Bahakwenu and Oldonyo villages.

“Melikubwa water project is among the drought mitigation interventions recommended under the education sector. We have leveraged the Kwale Water Services pipeline to reach thousands of people directly and indirectly,” the PS added.

The project components include a three-kilometre pipeline to Melikubwa Primary School and Oldonyo ECD centre, two community water kiosks, two plastic tanks with 5,000-litre capacity each and a 50,000 litre concrete tank.

Kwale County faces acute water scarcity during dry months and the situation worsens during drought periods. The education sector is one of the most affected by water scarcity, particularly public primary schools. This forces pupils to wake up early to fetch water to carry to school.

PS Dokota reiterated the need to ensure children remain in school, adding that “educated people are better able to withstand shocks such as drought and provide the skilled workforce required for productive livelihoods”.

“Once we sort out water challenges in arid and semi-arid areas, about 60 percent of the economic problems will have been solved,” PS Dokota said.

Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani thanked the Government of Japan and UNDP for supporting the project and other interventions that seek to address underlying vulnerability and building resilience of communities in the county.

“With adequate water, we can engage in farming and livestock keeping. This would enable us to be self-reliant without having to depend on requiring relief food anymore,” the Governor said.

She, however, decried human-wildlife conflicts, especially destruction of crops by elephants, which she said is eroding efforts towards food security in the county.

Speaking at the same event, NDMA Chief Executive Officer Lt Col (Rtd) Hared Hassan said that most of the Authority’s resilience building initiatives are water-related since access to water is a huge challenge in our arid and semi-arid regions. He noted that such projects are more efficient than water trucking, which is too expensive and unsustainable.

The CEO added that NDMA has supported two water pans in the subcounty as well as projects that support women and youth groups in all subcounties to start income-generating activities. He urged communities to guard their development projects jealously to ensure they also benefit future generations.

“We are now training the project management committee to enable them to keep the project running long after we exit,” the CEO said.

He assured the community that NDMA would continue partnering with the county government and other stakeholders to mitigate drought impacts and build long term resilience.

UNDP representative Ms. Evelyn Koech said UNDP is focusing on building resilience of communities to cope better with hazards such as drought. She added that UNDP has supported the county government to develop a disaster management policy and hazard mapping.