Cablegate: Impact of Ofda Drought Programs in Kenya.
DE RUEHNR #2152/01 1420417
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220417Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9827
UNCLAS NAIROBI 002152
USAID/DCHA FOR MHESS, WGARVELINK,
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, GGOTTLIEB, AFERRARA, ACONVERY,
DCHA/FFP FOR WHAMMINK, JDWORKEN
STATE FOR AF/E, AF/F AND PRM
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL KE
SUBJECT: IMPACT OF OFDA DROUGHT PROGRAMS IN KENYA.
1. Communities in Kenya's Makueni District are
benefiting from USAID/OFDA 2005-2006 drought
programming. A combination of newly constructed
rainwater harvesting structures, expansion of piped
water grids and rehabilitation of boreholes in several
communities have improved water quality, increased
household consumption and reduced the average distance
traveled by residents to procure water. Local district
leaders report significant reductions in water-related
diseases compared to the 2005-2006 drought period.
Training programs, integrated into construction
activities, have empowered previously marginalized
groups to be more proactive with respect to water
management and holding the government more accountable
for services. End Summary.
2. From April 27 to 28, USAID/OFDA Regional Advisor
and Disaster Operations Specialist traveled to the
Makueni District to assess the project and participate
in handover ceremonies held jointly with local
beneficiaries and community leadership.
3. Erratic rainfall combined with natural resource
mismanagement in Kenya's Makueni District negatively
impacted food security and prompted the Kenyan
government to appeal for emergency drought assistance
in December 2005. Makueni infrastructure is severely
underdeveloped and the drought's effect on humanitarian
conditions had grown beyond the government's capacity
to assist. USAID's Office of US Foreign Disaster
Assistance (USAID/OFDA), through partner German Agro
Action (GAA), responded with $1.8 million in drought
emergency and mitigation programming that addressed
both the short- and long-term water issues for more
than 225,000 affected residents(In FY 2006, USAID/OFDA
awarded $6.6 million to seven international partners to
assist drought affected areas throughout Kenya).
4. Two consecutive normal rainy seasons in Makueni
District have significantly improved humanitarian
indicators. USAID/OFDA partner GAA recently completed
construction activities including traditional rock
rainwater catchments systems, rainwater roof harvesting
schemes at schools and rehabilitation of boreholes in
several locations in the district.
Local Technologies Key to Resolving Water Issues
5. With USAID/OFDA support, GAA constructed 3 rock
rainwater catchments and 38 school rainwater collecting
systems, added 20 kilometers of pipe to local water
distribution systems, and rehabilitated 26 boreholes
over the last 24 months (A March 2007 project
evaluation by GAA consultants determined that if only
0.03 percent of the area's average annual rainfall was
captured, it would provide 20 liters of water per day
for every person in the district throughout the year).
The construction of 50,000- to 150,000-liter rainwater
holding tanks at numerous schools and rock catchments
builds upon traditional water harvesting technologies.
Once filled, the rainwater reservoirs are able to
provide water to schools and communities for several
months during seasonal dry periods.
6. Villagers reported that the cash for work scheme
tied to program construction activities was critical to
help overcome the short-term effects of the drought.
Women generally composed more than 50 percent of the
labor force at each of the construction sites and
several women interviewed reported that cash payments
for work allowed them to purchase food and other
household essentials during the critical period.
Improvements in Public Health
7. Several village leaders reported that incidents of
diarrhea and skin diseases among children have sharply
declined when compared to last year's drought period.
Bilharzia, historically common during the dry season,
has decreased as a result of the new constructions
providing an alternative to drawing water directly from
Bilharzia-infested rivers. Several representatives
from local women's groups reported that families now
routinely access as much water as they need daily due
to the close proximity of water points and that the
additional water, combined with recent training
provided by GAA, had improved hygiene practices.
Impact of Community Training
8. Targeted community training programs attached to
the water harvesting construction activities, including
training on democracy and governance issues, has
challenged tradition in many of the previously drought-
affected Makueni communities. Women, comprising more
than 50 percent of the construction teams, now make up
the majority of members of local water management and
maintenance committees and commonly chair the
committees. GAA management reported that nascent water
committees are increasingly vocal towards local
governmental authorities with respect to improved
provision of water, health and protection services.
Conclusion / Recommendations
9. The drought that afflicted the Makueni District in
south central Kenya has subsided following concurrent
seasons of significant rainfall.
10. Rainwater harvesting and storage technologies,
including the construction of rock catchment systems,
rainwater catchments at schools, and rehabilitation of
boreholes can provide enough water to support
populations through the annual dry seasons. The
interventions are low cost, low tech solutions that
provide a high impact on local populations.
11. Community training, including training on
democracy and governance issues, empowers local groups
to negotiate more effectively with authorities for
services, improves management and maintenance of the
water points, and creates greater participation
opportunities for women.
12. Although the drought has passed, expanded water
harvesting programs in areas of Makueni and neighboring
Kitui Districts that have not benefited to date will
mitigate the impact of future droughts. The current
model is cost effective and sustainable.