Access to Clean Water Amidst Challenges in Mt. Kenya

Originally published on June 17, 2016.

Gladys Kathure and some of her cows grazing on her farm.
Mt. Kenya, located in Meru County, is the highest mountain in Kenya and is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Adjacent to the forest are villages that have co-existed together with the wildlife for decades. However, in recent years, this co-existence has been interrupted by conflict over scarce resources. In search of food, elephant herds often raid and destroy farmers’ field. No match for the powerful, hungry beasts, farmers in this region are adopting to a new kind of farming: livestock.

One such farmer is Gladys Kathure, a widow and mother of four, who now fully relies on rearing cattle, goats and sheep as her only livelihood. But making this transition was not easy. With little to no background in livestock raising, Gladys needed training to maximize her business. She also lacked access to a nearby water source. On a daily basis, she could wake up very early in the morning and walk 11 kilometers to the nearest spring to collect water for her family and water her animals to maintain their health. Productivity of her animals was affected and they could not fetch competitive prices at the market. Thankfully, for Gladys and her cows, this time consuming task wouldn’t be a part of her daily routine forever.

In 2016, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Land O’Lakes International Development helped to build a community water point in Mwitune through the Kenya Semi-Arid Enhancement Support (K-SALES) project. The intervention included the construction of a water kiosk and trough, and the formation, registration and training of the Water User Association (WUAs) for the operation and maintenance of the water point. Gladys is now one of 795 farmers who can access the kiosk for clean water for her family and animals. With the water point less than twenty meters from her homestead, this not only saves her time and energy, but also helps to keep her animals fattened and healthy, as they no longer have to make the trek for water.

“I am forever indebted to K-SALES for having brought water closer to my farm as it has improved my life,” says Gladys.

In addition to benefitting from the water kiosk, Gladys was among the farmers selected to attend a Livestock Trade Show recently organized by K-SALES. Here, she learned how to better feed, shelter, de-worm and vaccinate her animals for optimal care. These practices, along with closer proximity to water, are making Gladys’ livestock sale value go up by 50 percent. 

With happy animals and newly acquired skills, Gladys’ income covers education and food for her children, and the excess sales go back into the livestock. After five years of maintaining livestock, she is ready to take her business to the next level. 

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