I am in Kochar, a village in Pokot County, in the north west of Kenya – close to the Ugandan border – population 250. I am here on behalf of the African Water Bank. My plan is to accompany a group of girls and women on their daily trek to collect drinking water from a spring 10 kilometers away – the closest water point to Kochar…
Nairoshi is 9 years old. Like most Kenyan girls of her age she is wraith-like – weighing maybe 30 kilograms and standing about 155 centimeters tall barefoot. On her head she balances a yellow 20 liter water container. Empty it weighs a kilo. Filled with water it will weigh nearly 20 kilos. We set off before first light with a small group of girls and a couple of women all carrying containers. The group walks at a fast pace to keep warm – chatting and laughing incessantly – I sense at my expense. To get to the spring we climb up and down three very steep hills that have me panting by the time we top each one. We reach the spring in 2 hours.
The spring is no more than a muddy hole. The water is dirty brown and smells. It is obvious that animals have been drinking from it. Nairoshi uses a plastic cup to collect the filthy water and fill her container.
The trek back takes longer. Nairoshi carries the container on her back using a rope and cloth sling which she supports with her forehead. When I offer to help everyone laughs hysterically. Men do not carry water they cry. We arrive back at midday – we had left before six. I am exhausted and hungry – and I have not carried anything. The women and girls’ workday then begins.
There is no school for Nairoshi. Without a water point closer to her village the daily trek is her future. It is a high price for 20 liters of dirty water.
Your Water Challenge: No More Dirty Water
A clean water point in or close to Kochar can change many things. The village can build a school and attract a teacher. Teachers in Africa will simply not go to places without a clean water point. It will free Nairoshi and the other young girls to attend school. It will dramatically improve infant mortality and the overall health of the whole community. Most infant deaths are caused by diarrheal diseases – mainly due to drinking contaminated water. A local clean water point will free people to pursue other economic activities. It will be the beginning of development for Kochar.
We estimate the cost of a clean water point for Kochar at $7,500. The community has raised 15% of this. If you are interested in supporting this water challenge contact Meghan at the Africa Water Bank