John is 38 years, married and is a father of four children. Umina village where the family lives is in North Gem Location and has a population of 234 people. He starts, “Until 2014, lack of clean and safe water was a major challenge to our village. The water sources available included contaminated streams and open water ponds which led to water borne diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid and Dysentery”. As such clean and safe water was a key priority to them. In 2014, the Community partnered with the Gem Water and Sanitation project and protected the Kolando Spring. Community members provided unskilled labour and locally available materials while the project provided skilled labour and building materials. Protection of this spring has not only increased their access to clean water but also led to a reduction in cases of water borne diseases in the village.
The project trained the Village Water Committee on water resources management and as result they can now manage their water resource. The beneficiaries formed Kolando Self-Help Group composed of 35 members who contribute Kshs 50 per month which is set aside for maintenance of the spring. Local artisans too have been trained by the project on Village Level Operations and Maintenance (VLOM). This is key to sustainability. In addition the beneficiaries have been sensitized on safe water handling and storage at household level which has equipped them skills and knowledge at improving water quality at their homes.
In 2016, the group was supported by Livelihoods department under project 5466 also funded by Dorcas to design a furrow irrigation system using water from the spring. They now grow vegetables which gives them a weekly income of Kshs 350. (3.5 Euro) from vegetable sales. The beneficiaries have also begun table banking and group members are able to borrow money. John explains that some of the group’s dreams include purchasing a piece of land to upscale their horticultural activities and keep poultry.