Safe Water & AIDS Project (SWAP) uses an integrated entrepreneurial approach addressing a number of public health issues by working with already existing community structures. SWAP has been operating in Western Kenya since 2005 with public health programs and research contributing towards the achievement of sustainable development goals.
SWAP’s vision is to see a healthy and empowered community where everyone enjoys high quality of life.
SWAP’s mission is to provide innovative solutions for improved health and economic status of our communities
Sondu Water Enterprise is located at Sondu in Kisumu County, bordering Kericho, Nyamira and Homabay Counties in Western Kenya. The population residing in Sondu largely depend on the river source water for domestic use, which is highly turbid and contaminated. The river traverses three counties thus increasing contamination along its channel before emptying into Lake Victoria. Laboratory tests on microbiological quality have revealed that the source has high coliform count and fecal contamination.
There is a piped water scheme in the area which is not reliable and the supply is intermittent. Occasionally, the electricity supply is disconnected due to failure in settlement of the bills and due to drought there has been frequent rationing of water supply.
Other use surface water for household use and drinking. This has put especially young children at high risk of diarrheal illness and mortality.
The Safe Water Enterprise was launched in July 2016. This was a collaborative initiative between Skyjuice Foundation (Australia) and Siemens Stiftung (Germany) in partnership with SWAP. Through this intervention the surrounding community members now have access to safe water, which has significantly reduced waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid and amoeba and as such reduced morbidity and mortality especially in children under five.
The technology is Skyhydrant Filtration. Raw water is pumped from the river and collected in a water tank after which it is filtered through the membranes of the skyhydrant filtration unit. It is then channeled to outlets and sold to the communities at an affordable rate.
To take care of the sanitation SWAP built a public toilet since there was none at the Sondu Market where the Sondu Water Enterprise is established. Community members can use this toilet at a fee, which is to generate some income to facilitate the procurement of toilet tissue, cleaning materials and hand washing soap. Next to the toilet there is a hand washing station which is used for demonstration.
Beneficiaries of the Sondu Water Enterprise
- Traders at Sondu market
- Water Vendors on motorcycle or handcart owners
- School going children in nearby schools
- Residents/tenants within Sondu and its surroundings
- Patients at nearby health facilities
- Community Health Volunteers
Partnerships and Achievements
SWAP has established strong partnerships with various Water and Sanitation partners who each played a role and made invaluable contributions with supplies, training, capacity building and marketing.
SWAP connected the Sondu Water Enterprise to the Kenya power. Having electricity made it easier to pump the water instead of using generators. It also created an opportunity to start a new income generating activity such as charging mobile phones. In the area where there is no electricity community members rely on others to charge their mobile phones which is done at a fee. So revenue increased with income from water sales, income from toilet use and charging of mobile phones. Siemens supported the installation of a new pump and PVC piping.
The Sondu Maji Safi team overseeing the operations at the Sondu Water Enterprise held elections and registered with the Ministry of East Africa Community Labor and Social Protection as “Sondu Maji Safi Community Based Organization (CBO) Maji Safi in Swahili means clean water. The registration is part of the process of handing over the management of Sondu Water Enterprise to the community. Already some initial training of the CBO was done but more capacity building is needed. This handing over is an ongoing process to enhance sustainability which will be facilitated in stages. Some of the administrative leaders are members of this CBO. They have 14 members, including officials such as Chair Person, Secretary and Treasurer.
Siemens and SWAP held a joined meeting with the CBO members and key points of discussion were:
- Sondu Maji Safi CBO is now registered so they are a legal entity
- Sondu Water Enterprise must become self-reliant without further assistance from SWAP or SIEMENS
- Sondu Water Enterprise should belong to the community and the community must be ready to take full responsibility.
- The CBO Members must aim to attract more customers and to sell clean treated water to the surrounding areas.
- Ownership of the community must be seen within the group for the success of both the enterprise and the CBO.
- SIEMENS and SWAP are ready to work with the Sondu Maji Safi CBO and introduce more products only if there is commitments and dedication of the group members.
- The CBO members were advised to think of other projects and income generating activities to could be involved in to attract more costumers
Kenya Water for Health Organization – KWAHO – KWAHO was engaged by Siemens to support the hygiene promotion and community mobilization to help market the Sondu Water Enterprise.
Kenya Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene -KIWASH – is a USAID funded program which has expressed interest to support Sondu water enterprise. The Water Operator and SWAP employee supervising the Sondu Water Enterprise participated in a training and together worked on a business plan which is shared with KIWASH. They offered support and ongoing capacity building to help the Enterprise run more efficient towards sustainability in the near future.
SWAP continued to do regular water quality testing of the water sold to the communities. This to ensure that the water is free from pathogens and fit for human consumption. Water testing was done in SWAP’s water lab which can perform bacteriological and chemical tests. To keep this control measure SWAP ensured that the CBO members and the water operator is well trained on hygiene promotion and service and maintenance of the Skyhydrant filter as well as costumer relations.
SWAP is working with the Sondu administrative leaders and the Sondu Maji Safi CBO to eventually hand over ownership of the enterprise after it is sustainable. In 2018 the service has been on high demand due to the drought as a result of climate change, whereby people come from far to access the service.
SWAP seeks still more funding through Global Funding to support the process of handing over. It requires more investment in training such as business skills, record keeping, group dynamics, financial management, marketing. SWAP would still need to support the regular water testing for quality control.
SWAP plans for a ceremonial handing over to the Sondu Maji Safi CBO involving all the community leaders and other stakeholders.Attachments: