Clean, sustainable water for the Maasai

Amref health Africa in collaboration with Amref Health Africa in Kenya are implementing a project aimed at reducing the incidence of trachoma and other diseases relating to water and sanitation in the locality of Meto, in the District of Kajiado, Kenya.

Kajiado County is semi-arid with an annual average rainfall of 800 mm. Rainfall is erratic and  there are often cyclical and prolonged droughts. 40% of the population do not yet have access to a safe and sustainable water supply, while sanitation coverage is only 20%. The lack of water means that there is a high prevalence of preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, scabies, pinworm, typhoid and trachoma, whose prevalence is 28.1%, it being considered an endemic area.

The Maasai Sustainable Water  project (SUSWAmaa) has as its focal point the construction of a large underground sand dam in a dry riverbed to collect and retain water from the sandy river bed. The retained water seeps into the soil refilling the shallow aquifers. The sand trapped in the dam acts as a water filter. The clean water will be accessed through two infiltration wells equipped with hand pumps. The sand dam will be fenced to allow normal flora and vegetation to regrow in the surrounding areas. Thus, it will offer people sufficient access to drinking water, water for washing their hands and faces for personal hygiene and to help prevent WASH-related (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) diseases, such as trachoma.

AMREF will use the 3R (recharge, retention and reuse) approach to refill and store surface runoff water during flooding and employ it for domestic and livestock uses. The project's innovations and strategies are:
1. Monitoring WASH-T: training 15 people from the community to monitor aspects relating to hygiene, water sanitation and trachoma in their communities. Working with a tool designed to detect the level of active trachoma in the community.
2. Creating a demand for sanitation through community-led total sanitation. Implementation of the CLTS (community-led total sanitation) model, which Amref uses for its work in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in the villages served.
3. Water treatment in the home and safe storage.

4. Water management promoted by the community: The project will raise awareness of and support training in trachoma prevention, hygiene and sanitation for 15 members of the community balanced by gender.

The total number of beneficiaries is 4,430 people. Of these 3,935 women and children will benefit from the construction of the ground-water dam and the two infiltration wells, and also from raising awareness, promoting hygiene and adequate sanitation, and developing skills.

500 people are indirect beneficiaries, they will benefit from water being transported in water tanks and the water from the infiltration wells, carried by donkey to the markets near Longosua.