Updated: Aug 18
Our work is currently focused in Bomet County, in the South West of Kenya. Bomet has a population of around one million people. Currently these residents have the 3rd lowest access to clean water sources of Kenya's 47 counties with only 23% having access to both clean water and a safe toilet (KNBS, 2013).
We won't be leaving until we are sure that the county has achieved Sustainable Development Goal 6, which means everyone has clean water, safe toilets and good hygiene - forever. To achieve this, we are not doing piecemeal projects - we are working with government and business to set up services and build systems that are self-sustaining. This is because we know that it is local government, local business and ultimately local communities who will overcome the water and sanitation crisis, and our job is to help them significantly speed up this process.
In Kenya power is largely devolved to the county level, and this means that Bomet County Government plays the critical role in achieving the goal of reaching everyone, forever. For this reason, we work closely with the County Government and private sector partners to:
1. Inform and Influence - for progress to be made and sustained it is crucial that county government departments and local businesses have the skills and expertise they need to create water and sanitation systems that reach everyone, and keep these systems running forever. Achieving this in practice means everything from training government engineers in best practice for building school toilets, to supporting decision makers in coordinating information collection and sharing across departments and sectors.
2. Assess and Plan - to make sure funds are being used in the most effective way possible, there needs to be a district wide plan in place setting out how everyone will be reached, forever. To achieve this, we support the county government in collecting detailed information showing the situation on the ground, ranging from surveying households to establishing what the real lifecycle costs of reaching everyone will be. We then support the county government in using this information to create a plan for achieving universal, sustainable access that takes into account the voices and needs of everyone, including the most marginalised.
3. Implement and Monitor - once the district wide plan is in place we support its implementation. In practice this means working with government officials, local business and community volunteers to lay pipes and build tap stands; roll out new school curriculums that provide vital hygiene lessons to the next generation; and set up business structures to generate the revenues needed to keep the taps running. Perhaps most crucially, we then monitor the district for a minimum of 10 years to ensure that these new services and systems are self-sustaining.
We are only able to bring together the diverse range of people and organisations needed to achieve this because of the reputation our team has developed. We have been on the ground in Kenya since 2007 and have reached just over 120,000 people so far. We are the first international NGO ever to be honoured with the direct support of Kenya's grassroots Constituency Development Fund - which is testament to the trust and respect the work of our local team inspires in everyone from the teachers we work with at schools to the MPs supporting our work in parliament.
Our 5 year plan - 2020-25
To achieve the goal of everyone in Bomet County having clean water, safe toilets and good hygiene, forever, we have determined with the County Government that the first step must be to demonstrate best practice for achieving sustained, universal access at the ward level.
Bomet County has 25 wards of varying sizes. The ward that has been selected for this intervention is Ndanai-Abosi, which is both one of the largest wards (with a population of over 56,000 people / ~5% of the county's population) and has the lowest access to clean water. We are supporting the County Government to create and deliver a district wide plan for Ndnai-Abozi using an adapted version of the 'District level Roadmap for Universal Access to Sustainable WASH services' produced by the WASH agenda for change coalition. This roadmap has five phases; 1) Introduction and Visioning 2) Institutional Strengthening 3) Assessment 4) Ward Wide Planning and 5) Implementation and Monitoring. These phases will be initiated sequentially - we are however mindful that system strengthening processes are rarely linear and phases may need to be revisited, skipped or combined.
This focus on Ndanai-Abosi will both rapidly reach the residents of this marginalised ward with sustainable WASH services and strengthen the building blocks of the county's entire WASH System. The successes and inevitable challenges of creating and delivering a district wide plan at this scale will demonstrate what it takes to reach everyone, forever, in the local context of Bomet. In practice this will include determining the true lifecycle cost of reaching everyone in a ward, discovering which infrastructure options are viable in this context and demonstrating which management systems are really sustainable at this scale. These successes - and lessons learned - will then provide a template for scaling up sustained, universal access across the entire county.