By Philip Munyasia
With a population of 53 million, 15 percent of Kenyans rely on unimproved water sources, such as ponds, shallow wells and rivers, while 41 percent of Kenyans lack access to basic sanitation solutions. These challenges are especially evident in rural areas and urban slums where people are often unable to connect to piped water infrastructure.
Organic Technology Extension and Promotion of Initiative Centre (OTEPIC) is a community based organization born out of passion for sharing knowledge and innovative approaches on permaculture, renewable energies technologies and peace initiatives on empowerment of women and youth groups in Kitale Kenya.
Recently an acute water shortage has hit most parts of Kitale Kenya and north western part of Kenya. However, there are many areas where piped water connections do not produce a reliable, constant flow of water. Thus, solutions like making water retention ponds/ borehole wells and rainwater harvesting tanks are also needed in urban and peri-urban areas.
Our impact in Kenya
The water and sanitation crisis in Kenya remains critical, and OTEPIC Kenya peace project has been developing new ways to scale our work to reach even more people. Due to water shortages we managed to drill two boreholes that serves more than 6,800 people with clean drinking water for free. We have seen an estimated 50% reduction in water borne diseases and a reduction in poverty due to reduced family expenditure on medication. There has also been a noticeable increase in the local economic development, due to the substantial improvement in health. And various tribes who have been fighting over limited water resources are reaching more peace and stability.
We have built 4 small water retention landscape through hand digging to recharge the ground water systems using water retention landscape/ponds and swales.
Since OTEPIC Kenya project provide free drinking water to 6,800 people from boreholes’. We have built water retention systems for the restoration of the full water cycle by retaining the water in the areas where it falls as rain. There will be no rainwater run-off, where only fresh spring water leaves the land. The rain which falls on such an area is taken up by the vegetation or the water-bodies and recharges the groundwater.
Miriam Nekasa from Biddi slums used to pay a lot to purchase water. The water she bought was delivered by truck and pumped into storage containers on her property. This was expensive and cut into the family’s profits from their vegetables sales, leaving little money for anything else.
Irene Nafula says,” Since we got clean water, our life has improved much, our house and all facilities are much cleaner. We no longer have problems with skin-related diseases. We have developed a habit of using clean water and washing hands before cooking and eating. Also water from OTEPIC Kenya peace project plays a big role in helping us with sanitation during this Covid-19 pandemic”
Since 2008 we have taught more than 56,000 farmers in permaculture, peace education, renewable energy and provision to 6,800 people with clean drinking water, a community library to support children and adults to access the information. We have created three demonstration gardens in the poorest neighborhoods of Kitale -a learning garden in Kaloleni, -Amani Garden in Bidii-to inspire our communities with perspectives and teach them community-based approaches to sustainable development.
Upendo farm-permaculture center offers intensive programs for teachers, We have planted 15,000 trees at 7 schools. The street feeding program, that helps 150 homeless children, gets its food from the gardens as well as supermarket donations of food that would otherwise be thrown away. OTEPIC has an orphanage center with 22 children, where orphans and young children are finding a home, food and an opportunity to study how to become a responsible person who lives in harmony with nature. Training in mushroom cultivation, biogas digesters, land fertility, tree planting, childcare, composting, compost toilets and creating water retention landscapes are all offered.
“Nobody goes hungry anymore, not even at the end of the dry season. Our children are healthy because they get a diverse diet. And the money that we save helps to buy their school books” Nancy Opele
Working with communities to develop models, has been a great component of our work. Various groups in the communities take part in the making of the water retention landscape, making swales and helping to maintain the smooth running of the boreholes.
Coming together and working in groups plays a big role towards peace development, fostering good working relations and friendship among the community members. Historically there has been tribal conflict in the community, so working together fosters unity among the tribes hence peace will prevail.
Philip Munyasia is the Founder of OTEPIC. To support the work of OTEPIC go here.