KISII, Kenya Mar 26 – Sharon Akinyi wakes up every morning and runs to the nearby water stream which is about three kilometers away from her home to fetch water. She then takes the water back home for her mother who also acts as a babysitter for her one-year-old kid as she joins other students in school.

Akinyi, who is a student at the Oyugis Secondary school, says water scarcity is one of the biggest challenges they are currently facing after they had a period of over six months without rain, and helping her family get this commodity affects her study hours

 Together with her two brothers, they have to wake up at 4:00 am daily to fetch water to help her mother perform house chores before getting to sell her second-hand clothes at Oyugis town.

“In the evening we break from school, quickly get home and head to fetch water before the number of people looking for the commodity at the water point goes up.  That is the only source of clean water, in the evening, we can be almost 100 of us waiting to fetch from this stream,” says a worried Akinyi.

She says in a bad day they can wait in the queue for about three hours before their turn, and then they have to wait for their neighbours so that they can walk back home as a group since she fears walking alone in the darkness.

Joyce Kiplagat, a hairdresser in Oyugis bus stop, says water accessibility has been a challenge for the past one year whereby a jerrican of water has shot up from Sh10 to Sh20 and she spends at least five jerricans a day.

“I have to wait for about two hours before opening my business, those hawking water have to go for kilometers to get water and then sell to us,” says Joyce.

She recalls during the rains; they would harvest and store water which they could use for weeks before it runs out.

Imagine Africa Foundation in collaboration with Grassroots Peace CORPS through the Rotary Club in Kisumu received a Global Grant of $70,000 from Rotary club of Holland in the USA to sink a borehole and provide a sanitation facility to cushion women and girls from walking for kilometers to search water.

Imagine Africa Foundation in collaboration with Grassroots Peace CORPS through the Rotary Club in Kisumu received a Global Grant of $70,000 from Rotary club of Holland in the USA to sink a borehole and provide a sanitation facility to cushion women and girls from walking for kilometers to search water.

Kennedy Onguny, the project coordinator said the project was initiated to control public Health related diseases in a gender-responsive manner to mitigate climate change based on the need of people.

The project is being initiated in Oyugis Town, Homa Bay county and it will run for a period of one year, the borehole will supply water to a population of 100,000 with two sanitation units at the bus stop.

“The borehole will reduce water scarcity in this region, women and girls will not travel for kilometers to search for water down the streams which are almost dying up,” says Onguny.

Onguny says it’s now six months since this town received water from the country government, the residents have waited for rain for six months and the nearest river which is two kilometers away is contaminated.

“We will train Community Health Volunteers on the need for sanitation during this climate change crisis and they will be our ambassadors in this community in reaching out to people door to door, we will also create awareness on the importance of water hygiene and sanitation by supplying clean detergents to the residents,” says Onguny.

Isabel Lumumba, the Chief Executive Officer at A Million Trees, a civil society organization says communities and individuals should take a noble responsibility of planting trees in the coming long rains to attract more rainfall.

Mrs Lumumba says, that the dry season challenged everyone to reflect on the importance of trees to the environment and its effects on adequate and frequent rainfall.

“I invite everyone to plant the number of trees in line with their age, in the coming rains, if you are thirty plant thirty trees either in private or public land, everyone should engage in this challenge,” says Mrs Lumumba.

According to A million trees, they have hundreds of thousands of trees in their nursery which they will donate in the coming rainy season, they have urged the youth to be more proactive in transplanting trees from the nurseries for growth.

She emphasizes on the importance of growing indigenous trees along water catchment areas to help in maintaining water tables and wetlands.

Gender and water discussions at COP27

During the opening ceremony of the COP27 discussions at Sharm-El Sheikh in Egypt, Women’s inclusion in climate dialogue and implementation was the key focus. The session saw the official launch of Egypt’s African Women’s Climate Adaptive Priorities initiative.

The initiative will work to promote gender-sensitive perspectives within climate adaptation, just transition and responses.

The conference featured a multi-stakeholders conversation regarding the climate impacts on water and the linkages to wide, cross-cutting connections on development and livelihoods as a result of the water crises.

Issues related to water resource management, water scarcity, drought, cross-boundary cooperation and improvement of early warning systems were widely covered.

The Action for Water Adaptation and Resilience Initiative AWARe, an initiative that catalysis inclusive cooperation to address water as key to climate change adaptation, resilience and their co-benefits was also launched.

 The Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) indicates that 1.5 million livestock had already died as a result of drought by February 2022 and this was likely to increase due to the prolonged drought.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) asserts Loss and Damage funding will offset the burden on impacted African communities and help them. Over 60% of Africa’s 1.4 billion people live in rural areas and depend on climate-sensitive livelihoods like rain-fed agriculture. The funding will help them adapt to a warmer climate

Women and girls in sub-Sahara Africa bear the primary responsibility for water collection while facing an impossible choice to get water resources for their families to survive, drink, cook, sanitation and hygiene.

 Climate change is a significant problem for many African nations, particularly with regard to water scarcity. Droughts, erratic rainfall, and rising temperatures are having a significant impact on the availability of water in many African countries, putting millions of people at risk of water insecurity. Women and girls, in particular, are disproportionately affected by this crisis.

Women and girls are often responsible for fetching water for their families, and the lack of water means they have to travel long distances to find water. This not only increases their workload but also puts them at risk of physical harm, particularly if they have to travel through areas with conflict or where they are at risk of sexual violence.

 Lack of water means that girls have to spend more time fetching water, which means they have less time to attend school. This can lead to a reduction in their educational opportunities and put them at a disadvantage in terms of future employment opportunities.

Women and girls are at risk of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid, which are spread through contaminated water. The lack of sanitation facilities also exacerbates this problem, making it more difficult to maintain good hygiene and reducing the chances of preventing disease transmission.

Water scarcity also affects economic opportunities for women and girls. In many African countries, women are responsible for agriculture, and the lack of water makes it difficult to grow crops and sustain livestock. This means that women and girls are unable to earn income, leading to poverty and food insecurity.

 Scarcity of water is a major problem in Africa, and it is having a significant impact on the lives of women and girls. Climate change is exacerbating this problem, and urgent action is needed to ensure that women and girls have access to clean water and sanitation facilities to ensure their health, education, and economic opportunities.

In African countries, Women and children spend 200M hours every day collecting water and left with little or no time for work school or take care of their families. Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) has predicted delayed onset of rain in the next three months, the period when farmers are preparing for plantation.

This comes after almost three years of persistent drought in the Greater Horn of Africa.

The March to May season constitutes an important rainfall season, especially in the equatorial parts of the GHA which contributes up to 60 percent of the total annual rainfall.

 Dr. Guleid Artan, Kenyas IGAD Climate Prediction and Application center (ICPAC ) Director, explained that “even if the general conditions for the season do not look favorable, people can still take advantage of short rainfall. “This is why I urge all to consult our weekly and monthly forecasts which have a high degree of predictability.”

(ICPAC) announced depressed rainfall and high temperatures in the 2023 season after examining the forecast for March to May.

“In parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda that have been most affected by the recent drought, this could be the sixth failed consecutive rainfall season,” Dr. Guleid said in a statement.

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Kenya now appeals for Sh17.3 billion from local and international donors to meet the needs families affected by drought in Kenya.

The agency said 6.4 million people are facing food insecurity, half of the 3.2 million children.

According to UNICEF over 970,000 children under five and 142,000 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers require urgent lifesaving treatment for malnutrition. an increase from 884,000 in July 2022.