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 mission is to provide innovative solutions where everyone enjoys high quality of life.
The water kiosk committee members have undergone several trainings to prepare them for the management of the Sondu Water Enterprise and in January 2020 they were put on probation selling water without much external support. They had opened a bank account and so far have been able to sustain themselves, paying the water operators and other operational costs from the revenue from the water sales and public toilet sales. SWAP was still visiting them for monitoring and mentorship.
The water kiosk committee members recruited a male kiosk operator in addition to the already two female kiosk operators to assist in cleaning of the kiosk tanks, cleaning the compound, water pumping at the river site and other technical duties.
In April 2020 the water kiosks members cleaned the two storage tanks and re-enforced the cover of the 5000-liter tanks which was not stable.
Since January 2020 Sondu Water Enterprise managed the sales of water and sanitation services to the community without any technical interruptions. They received very good cooperation from the community where there is increased awareness about the importance of safe water and general hygiene.
Currently the revenue at Sondu Water Enterprise is at average 7000 Kenya Shillings per month. At the end of May 2020, their bank account had accumulated 21,000 Kenya shillings, which they started operating in January 2020 at the start of their probation period.
The sales data show a peak in February 2020, this was when it was relatively dry season and greater demand for water. In March 2020 there was excessive and erratic rain, which triggered communities to harvest rain water for household use.
In March 2020 the first COVID 19 case was reported in Kenya. SWAP joined the Ministry of Health as member of the COVID 19 response team to support with distribution of hand washing stations, soaps, personal protective equipment to public health facilities, hot spots and capacity building on COVID 19 prevention and hygiene promotion.
The Sondu Water Enterprise became a center where hygiene promotion and demonstration of hand washing was done to costumers collecting water as well as the general public. Additional hand washing stations and soap were provided by SWAP to facilitate the same.
In April 2020 SWAP facilitated a water kiosk committee meeting that was attended by all members to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and how they can prevent themselves and help the community. Other deliberations were to discuss strategies on how to continue generate income. The committee members agreed apart from water sales and sanitation services to sell other health and hygiene products such as chlorine solution, soaps and jerry-cans.
In the month of May 2020, the kiosk committee received a donation of supplies to contribute to the COVID 19 response from one of the stakeholders, the Kenya Water for Health Organization (KWAHO). They received hand washing soap and hand sanitizers which was distributed to the community members.
During the period of reporting there was excessive rain and as a result rivers burst its bank and several houses were destroyed after being submerged by water affecting many of the neighboring communities around Sondu. Crops were destroyed affecting their food supply and livelihood of already vulnerable communities. Many families had to vacate their houses and seek accommodation in temporary established evacuation camps set up at schools and churches. SWAP supported with stakeholders from the humanitarian hub, the flood response to prevent outbreaks and mitigate the impact by issuing supplies such as water treatment, hand washing stations, soaps, sanitary pads, diapers, solar lamps and food items. Some of the supplies included the jerry cans and soaps which were sold at the Sondu Water Enterprise.
Another challenge is the economic losses and increased poverty in the area due to COVID 19 and flood. This has also seen an increase in insecurity and crime. Many of the workforce lost their employment and businesses failed to thrive due to restricted movements and Government regulations. Schools closed and school children were regular costumers at Sondu Water Enterprise. With more families going hungry, some fail to pay for water sold at Sondu Water Enterprise and revert back to collecting water from the river which is highly contaminated and unfit for human consumption.
From its establishment in 2016 to date, the Sondu Water Enterprise has become sustainable and is now managed by the local water committee who have been well prepared and trained to take over. The committee members have diversified skills and expertise and have all been given roles and responsibilities. Their responsibilities include enhancing security, service and maintenance, supervision of the water operators, monitoring of the record keeping and revenue collection, reconciling bank statements, deposits in the bank. Water quality, marketing among others.
We agreed on an initial probation period, which has now ended. The ceremonial handing over had to be postponed due to the restrictions during COVID 19. SWAP will be still occasionally pass by for mentorship and water testing, but we have confidence that this can now be community owned and managed in a sustainable way.
We therefore will no longer report moving forward, but want to take this opportunity to thank all well- wishers and donors, who have contributed to this journey to self-reliance, turning a water enterprise into a sustainable local managed enterprise. Any donations will still be channeled to Sondu Water Enterprise and will go towards support to help them prevent COVID 19 spread.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT !!