Access to water brings hope for Rigdam village
Water supply is critical for communities impacted by drought
Since October, it has only rained twice in Rigdam. Community members living in the village in Garissa County, Kenya, are now starting to migrate in search of water and pasture for their livestock.
Now with only eight households, down from 150, Rigdam is one of thousands of Kenyan villages affected by the current dought, leaving people who remain with long distances to walk to fetch water.
“I moved to this area two months ago from a nearby village called Mogadashe. My livestock was dying rapidly, and I used to have 200 goats, and now I am left with 10,” says local goatherder, Ibrahim Ali, 25.
Not far from where he is standing, a dead goat lays in an empty field, it’s bones visible among the tiny shrubs growing within the cracks of dry soil.
However, Ali says a borehole in the village, recently rehabilitate by UNICEF in partnership with the Kenyan government, keeps him and his livestock going.
“When I came, they had just fixed the borehole, which has been useful for my goats to drink water.”
“We are now trying to farm maize, watermelons, beans, and tomatoes, with the hope that it will rain more, and the produce can help us provide for our families.
Until UNICEF stepped in, the Rigdam borehole had not been functional for over a year. Before its rehabilitation, community members would walk 34km daily to collect water from a nearby village. The borehole pipeline has now made the walking distance for water 7km from the community.
Currently, UNICEF is working on the second phase to complete a borehole pipeline to make water even more accessible for community members.
UNICEF water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) specialist Jacob Kipkeny says, “When the water pipeline is finished, water will be available on-site in the village and at the school in this community.”
UNICEF also installed a new solar-powered water system, including replacing a submersible pump and rehabilitating the water kiosk and a tap stand which has two working taps.
“If the people who recently migrated from Rigdam to other areas return, about 11,000 people, including children, will benefit from these new water facilities,” Jacob adds.
“It will contribute to increased enrolment in school, reduce the time women and girls spend fetching water, improve breastfeeding for mothers, and increase opportunities for economic activities.”
About 4.3 million people and 1.4 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance to cope with the ongoing drought. More than US$32 million is required for UNICEF to support the government for effective response in the various sectors, including water, sanitation, and hygiene.