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Sosio Polytechnic – Kamukuywa
The area known as Kamukuywa is found within Kimilili district, in the northern part of Bungoma county, Western Kenya. The area was was built on a settlement scheme after Kenya gained independence. Before independence, European settlers had moved into Kamukuwya forcing out the local population across the Kamukuywa river. After independence the land was divided and redistributed. The population of Kamukuywa is around 20,000 though still growing.
The main crops grown around Kamukuywa are potatoes, bananas and maize, though other crops are starting to be seen in fields as farmers diversify to new markets. Some farmers rear dairy animals and kuku’s (the Kiswahili word for chickens), which are then seen grazing around the household’s compound.
There are no large employers or industries in Kamukuya although there are many primary and secondary schools. The most notable local activity centres around the weekly market which takes place every Tuesday, when the Kamukuywa junction turns into a hive of activity as people travel from across the region to buy and / or sell livestock, fruit and vegetables, clothes, and household items.
The location of the borehole project, Sosio Polytechnic, is adjacent to one of the two vocational training centres in the Kamukuywa area. Practical skills are taught to students seeking training in masonry, bricklaying, tailoring, car mechanics and carpentry. It is a well known location close to one of the 3 key roads running through the Kamukuywa area, and sits in the centre of a specific area which has been recognised as having particular issues with a lack of water.
Water was provided by the community in the form of a shallow well several years ago, but this was quickly contaminated and is not safe for use. Because of this, the members of the village (approximately 500 in total) have a choice of 3 springs located in different directions from which to draw water, the closest of which is over 2km away. These natural springs almost completely dry up during dry season resulting in long queues to share the scarce resources, and then during rainy season the springs are swamped by muddy water running off the slopes above the springs. Therefore the water, if available, is rarely clean and members of the community regularly suffer from diseases such as typhoid and diarrhoea as a result.
Peter Koinange, a keen community activist living nearby the site, spoke with hope about the future for the community when clean water is provided. He is excited that in addition to the reduction in water-borne diseases, the project will also improve agricultural productivity by allowing more water to be used on the shamba (Kiswahili term for a domestic farm), and villagers will spend far less time walking long distances to collect water which may not even be clean.
At least another 5 villages from around the site will be using this site as their primary source of water, and plans are already underway to develop microenterprises through which villagers around Sosio Polytechnic can take water to villages further away to ensure that they too can enjoy the benefits of clean water.