The villagers have accused herders from Kwale of vandalizing pipes that supplied water to the area from the main Mzima Springs water pipe.
Speaking at a community meeting with the Mariakani Water Officer at Shangia Primary School, women from the area called on the Government to replace the old pipes with metallic ones to curb the vice.
According to Beatrice Tatu, neighbouring communities have vandalized the pipes to ensure that their animals access water leaving the villagers with nothing.
“This area is very dry and we rely on piped water but we now have to buy a 20 litres jerri can at KSh40. We are also Kenyans and would like the Government to address our plight,” said Tatu.
Kilifi-Mariakani Water and Sewerage Company (KIMAWASCO) Mariakani region Manager Daniel Muindi noted that women were most affected by the poor water and sanitation system.
Muindi observed that the problem is gender based as mostly the burden of providing water to the family is the sole responsibility of women and girls.
“In this area drawing water and transportation is the responsibility of women who have to walk long distances due to the scarcity of the commodity and insufficient supply,” said Muindi.
Women and girls are forced to walk over 20 kilometres every day to fetch water in pans because piped water is only available from the Kenya Army barracks in Mugoya.
“The vandals cost us a lot of money that is why we had to abandon the main pipe supplying water to this area from the Mzima Springs. The only pipe that has a steady supply of water is the one which supplies the Mariakani barracks and belongs to the Department of Defence,” Muindi reiterated.
He said the water company has no mandate to tamper with the pipes without the approval of the Department of Defence.
The scarcity is also to blame for the high drop-out rates because most school going girls accompany their mothers to search for water.
Speaking at the same meeting, Alex Mwanza Executive Director Coast Forum for Human Rights called for a private-public partnership to address the problem so that people have access to clean drinking water.
Mwanza said the organisation will soon start a project that would enable reliable water supply to the area.
“The initiative will incorporate a gender approach while offering water and sanitation solutions to reduce water-related problems and ensure more girls are retained in school,” said Mwanza.
The project shall include establishing water kiosks to reduce acts of violence and aggression against women who fetch water from long distances. Women also called for their involvement during the implementation of all water projects in order to transform the current cultural and social discrepancy in the area.
Mwanza called on the provincial administration to work closely with the communities living around so that they can make good use of the project which is scheduled to start early next month.
This article was originally published in Reject Online Issue 82