By Florence Gichoya

Twelve-year-old Faith Sei broadly smiles. She draws clean water from a point that is connected from a natural spring, about 200 metres away; then drinks it. Faith is from Eluai Village, Mara Division, Narok County.

“I live there. It takes me about five minutes to walk to this water point,”

the Standard Four pupil, at Endoryo Erinka Primary School says, as she points at her parents’ homestead, about 400 meters away.

The teenager is among close to 2000 community members benefiting from Ochorro Le Koiyiaki Water Project. In 2009, Action Africa Help (AAH) Kenya protected a natural spring and put up a 15, 000-litre water tank. The organisation also set up three water points at 200 metres, three and six kilometres, from its source.

The local community is appreciative of the water and says it never dries up.

“The spring has never dried up, although the water can substantially reduce when it is very dry,”

says Olekisotu Olesitany, chairman of the water project.

The water tank started leaking a year after it was put up, due what locals say was poor workmanship, and as a result it is not being used. However, the residents have made the project sustainable. For example, Nkirimpa Sitany, 44, has constructed two water points to serve his family- the water points are situated in his land, near his homestead.

“I decided to have water close to my homestead; my three wives do not have to walk for long distances to fetch water,”

says the father of 18 children. He says before the protection of the spring and creation of the pipeline, they used to access water, three kilometres away. Sitany’s 600 herd of cattle drink water from a trough, next to one of his water point

A neighbor of Sitany, Naisula Naurori, 28, excitedly fetches water from one of the water points, which is about 200 metres from her home.

“The water is clean. I do not have to walk long distances. I have time to take care of my children, and do other household chores,” says the mother of six.

The water project is under basic services theme undertaken by AAH Kenya – that has been working in Narok County since 2005. The projects were under Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), education and health sectors.

The interventions were carried out under the flagship ‘Improving the Standard of Living of Pastoralist Communities in Mara Division’ programme in the 14 sub-locations of Mara Division. The programme utilized a strong community-based approach, working with local community development committees and the Mara Division Development Programme (MDDP), a Community Based Organisation.

Currently, AAH Kenya is implementing the Kakuma Refugee Assistance Programme (KRAP) that aims to enhance self-reliance and sustainable livelihoods for 4,080 refugees in Kakuma Camp, Turkana County. This is through development of models that will address resilience, safety net and consumption; skills enhancement, employment opportunities and enterprise development.

Through the Mara Entrepreneurship and Market Development (MEMD) project that started in January 2015, in Narok County, AAH Kenya will build on previous engagement with the communities and the county government. The two-year project, aims to develop an ‘entrepreneurial mind-set’ in community members, in order to strengthen their resilience and capacity to lead their own development.