Turkana County context
Located in the north west of Kenya, Turkana County suffers from water scarcity. Lorengelup village in Turkana County suffers from the negative impacts typical in the area due to the village water borehole drying up. Many residents are forced to walk long distances in search of water for drinking, as well as to carry out essential activities such as cooking and washing. According to the 2014 Kenyan Demographic and Health Survey[i] this task falls to women and children 60.5% of the time. The survey also found that almost 40% of the time this water was not safe for drinking, resulting in an increased risk of water borne diseases.
In an attempt to improve the situation in Lorengelup village, funds were provided to install four solar panels, which power a pump that extracts water from the borehole. From here it is transferred to kiosks around the village to ensure that the community has easy access to clean water. Improving access to clean water would not only mitigate the risk of contracting water borne diseases, but have wider social and economic benefits by allow communities to devote more time to other activities[ii].
National Taxpayers Association (NTA) is an NGO committed to empowering communities to monitor infrastructure projects and hold authorities accountable to improve service delivery for Kenyan citizens. Using Integrity Action’s Community Integrity Building (CIB) approach, NTA trained local residents as community monitors to audit the water project in Lorengelup village. NTA’s training equips monitors with skills to analyse project documents, conduct site visits to compare the project to the documents, take photos of the project, conduct beneficiary surveys, verify findings, and engage with stakeholders such as contractors and local government to fix problems.
When the monitors visited the Lorengelup village on the first of October, 2015, they discovered that the implementation of the water project had been beset by problems. Furthermore, the contractor had stopped work. The water borehole had been drilled but water had not been connected from the source to the two kiosks where people were supposed to collect water from. This also caused a shortage in construction materials as they were not being used as specified. Furthermore, community members still walked long distances to alternative water sources and also queued for a long time in order to get water. This meant that the community was still susceptible to water borne diseases and unable to focus on other ways to increase their families livelihoods.
First, the monitors held a community meeting where they shared the problems with the project’s implementation. Next, the monitors engaged with the implementing agency, to discuss the issues about the water source not being connected to any kiosks, as well as the fact that work on the project had ceased. The implementing agency agreed to follow-up with the county government of Turkana, as they were responsible for supplying the water pipes. The implementing agency also contacted the contractor to ensure they would restart the project. The monitors met again with the community and arranged for volunteers to cooperate with the contractor to re-dig the water trenches which had been covered up while the project had stalled.
The monitors’ hard work yielded impressive results. The pipes were supplied by the county government, the contractor re-started work with the community helping to speed up the process. During the final monitoring trip, in December 2015, the monitors saw that the project had been successfully implemented. Since then, the community fetches water only from the kiosks.
The local community members no longer have to walk for long distances in search of water, thus saving them time to undertake other livelihood activities, which in the long run is likely to improve their living standards. It allows children to attend school more regularly and women now have time to contribute to income generating activities in support of the household. Community members are also considerably less likely to contract water borne diseases.
By giving members of a local community the tools and knowledge to monitor project implementation from the bottom up, it ensures that the projects are carried out in a more transparent and effective manner. Without the monitors intervention the projects would have likely been left unfinished, but now the community in Lorengelup have access to clean water.