Easing water hardship for women inTaita and Kwale

Roll out the barrel
A beneficiary with the barrel. Photo: Joyous Begisen / UNDP Kenya

Over 1,200 Women in Taita-Taveta and Kwale counties have received innovative water barrels that allow them to fetch water with ease. Through a partnership between UNDP and British Charity RoTB (Roll out the Barrel) Trust, this initiative seeks to directly impact women and children who are forced to carry heavy water jerry-cans over long distances to collect water for domestic uses. The innovative 30 liter barrels can be rolled with ease making it easier to transport water to homes for domestic use.


“These water barrels will not only improve water availability in homes but they will expand the overall wellbeing in the community.  By reducing contamination and poor hygiene, we will be able to reduce or contain water borne diseases like diarrhea, cholera and dysentery. We also seek to empower women to participate in wealth creation because they will spent less time searching for water.” Commented the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas.


To promote access to clean and safe water, water filters will also be distributed. The filters are able to purify contaminated water making the water safe, clean and fit for human consumption. Beneficiaries will also be trained on the effective use & storage of the barrels and filters, basic health & hygiene and on income generating opportunities.


The Governor for Taita Taveta Mr. John Mruttu reiterated the importance of water access in the community stating that his government has prioritized water extension through pipelines, spring rehabilitation and micro dams for domestic and livestock use. Taita Taveta County is mainly dry, except for the Taita hills which are considerably wet. The County has a total of 71,090 households, of which 35% have access to piped water and 58% have access to portable water. The average distance to the nearest water point is 1.25 Km. In the County, an estimated 35% take between 30 minutes and 1 hour to fetch water while about 24.8% take more than one hour to fetch water.


  Kwale is predominantly semi-arid and experiences persistent water shortage. Households in Kwale walk long distances to fetch water for domestic and economic uses. About 50 percent of the population living in rural areas access water from water sources that are more than 2 km away. Along most settlements close to the Indian Ocean and in some of the semiarid areas the underground water is saline and hence not fit for domestic use.


To help address this challenge, UNDP has partnered with Roll Out the Barrel Trust to distribute these innovative water barrels. The barrels are made of strong plastic with rubber tyres and handle, and which can be easily pulled or pushed. The barrels are designed to reduce the time needed to fetch water by about 70 per cent thus providing women and children with more time to attend school and engage in other income generating activities. The barrels will also be distributed in Marsabit and Turkana counties of northern Kenya. The CEO of RoTB Mr Adrian Brewer was also in attendance.

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