Factors Affecting the Sustainability of Community Rural Water Supplies in Sankuri Division, Garissa District, Kenya
Water is the most important natural resource, indispensable for life and at the same time the backbone of growth and prosperity for humankind. More than 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water and 2.6-billion lack access to basic sanitation in the world today. Water is not like other commodities in the sense that it is essential to human life. It is also essential to economic growth and poverty reduction. About 18% of the world’s population lacks access to improved water supply, According to WHO, 1.6 million deaths per year can be attributed to unsafe water and lack of sanitation (Pérard, 2007:42). Major threats to the sustainability of rural water supplies include high poverty levels in communities, weak institutional framework and inability of communities to handle breakdowns.
The purpose of the research was to determine the factors that affect the sustainability of rural water supply facilities in Sankuri Division, Garissa District. To explore the causes of non-functionality of the water supply, a purposive survey was undertaken covering five (5) locations situated within the proximity of the Tana Rive with a sample of 384 households for quantitative data. Qualitative data was collected through focused group discussions and key informant interviews.
The study established demographic characteristics of the study population, majority of the respondents (73.8%) that fetched water for the household were women, and 4.4% were female children. As concerns their level of education and ability to pay for the services, those with higher levels of education were more likely to pay for the water services. Economic factor had a bearing on the households’ ability to pay for the services and therefore the need to consider the cost implication for sustainability of the WSS. Aspects of the operations and management of the WSS elicited components of sustainability and the study’s findings whereby Water management Committee accounted for 48.6%, however components of management contributing to unsustainability among others were poor management skills 18%, corruption among the office bearers 8.4% and lack of accountability 8%.
The study concluded that involvement of women in the management of the water systems since they are mostly involved in accessing this valuable commodity for their households is of utter importance, given their key role in this vital commodity for the members of their households. Cost has played a crucial role in the sustainability of the WSS, and lastly, Governance issues were not articulated to promote active community participation by the government policy, hence influence of the Operation and Management of the WSS.
The study made recommendations at two levels: To the Government to incorporate basic Operations and Management skills for the WSS teams and enhance the capacity building in the initiation of the projects. Water Service Providers to be aware of the consumers’ preference in the management of the WSS. The committee members’ capacity building is crucial for the attainment of sustainability of the WSS. Water tariffs to be affordable in order to support the communities’ ability to pay for the services, and to facilitate maintenance of the systems. Lastly, planning of annual stakeholders and management meetings to promote trust and ownership of the water facility should be emphasized.
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