Water is life: Katapakin Community speak up!

Published May 30, 2016 by Dorothy Mwangi

Anna Lokwamoe pours some murky water into her water bottle

On the morning of 26th January 2016, Anna Lokwamoe together with other community members gathered outside the Kerio Ward Administrator’s office to welcome the Governor who was scheduled to visit the area to officiate key development projects.   This was also a great opportunity for the long thirsty community, led by the Community Development Committee (CDC) to present to the Governor first hand, their water grievances.  

At 9:38 AM, the passionate crowd surged forward to welcome their Governor.  But 64 year old Anna Lokwamoe had other plans in mind.  She quickly slipped past security and presented the Governor with a bottle containing dirty drinking water from Kerio River.

“Your Excellency, welcome to Katapakin.  We wish to share with you the water we have been drinking since we moved here in 1997.  Have a drink sir...”

She continued to express herself in a loud voice, stating the challenges the residents are facing due to water scarcity in the area.  This tale of desperation is replicated in almost all the residents, at least 5,000 people living in the area.

Kerio residents have relied on water from the seasonal Kerio River which is not only dirty but also unreliable.    Prioritize the delivery of clean water services to our waterless community. This is the main call of the Kerio Community Development Committee (CDC), a grassroots structure organized in cooperation with REGAL-IR in Kerio Ward, Turkana County.

Another CDC Member Jackson Loongos, backed-up these sentiments saying, "communities should speak up; their right to water must be prioritized in any circumstances, more so in these times when we have water borne diseases due to the recent heavy rains.  Our children no longer go to school because they are sick.”

Without hesitating, the Governor received the bottle and immediately ordered his Minister in charge of Water and Irrigation to ensure that water was made available to this community. 

It has been five months since this incident and the residents of Kerio are still waiting for the much anticipated clean water.  Their patience is now running out.  The community has not seen any visible or tangible progress to convince them they might get clean water soon. The disturbing question crossing Anna Lokwamoe and fellow resident’s minds is, how much longer do we have to wait?  

The County Government emphasizes that plans are underway to provide the area residents with clean water.  In this regard, the County Government has embarked on the process of procuring and laying down pipes from Nangolekuruk Ward, 16 Kilometers away to Katapakin Ward.

Why this process seems to have stalled is what has irked the residents of Katapakin/Kerio Ward.

The CDC is not about to give up.  They have sent a letter to the Governor reminding him of his promise to deliver on the water initiative.  In addition, the CDC is planning to make the 55 Kilometer journey to the Governor’s Office in Lodwar Town to present their Community Development Action Plan (CDAP) and lobby their priority concerns.

“Thanks to REGAL-IR for empowering us and building our capacity to seek for our rightful services.  We are now confident to lobby our priorities on behalf of our community than ever before”, Anna concludes.