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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Managing Water: Kenya

Water for Africa

Africa, Kenya

by Drew Denzin, Ololulunga, Kenya

No one is in charge of managing our local river; they all fend for themselves. People can take as much as they can carry, and bathe or go to the bathroom in the river whenever they want. In terms of families, it is the women's responsibility to get water for their families, wash clothes at the river, and do the cooking with the water.

Farmers pray for water when crops are planted; other than that, there isn't anything they do (i.e., irrigation or sprinklers with river water).

by Kendall Rondeau, Miharati, Kenya

In Kenya, water is considered women's work. Women and girls fetch water from the rivers. They do all the cooking and cleaning. They wash the whole family's clothes by hand. They heat the water for bathing and prepare it for the men. It is exhausting work.

by John and Kim Shumlansky, Mount Kenya National Forest, Kenya

Each family in our village has a water tap near their home. Therefore, each family is responsible with managing the amount of water they use.

In Kangaita and in much of Kenya, it is usually the responsibility of women and children to get water for the family. They usually collect the rainwater off a roof or simply fill buckets and pots from the nearby tap. If the water system breaks down and it has rained recently, then the children and women go to the nearby stream and collect water in jerry cans.

Men are now assisting more with the responsibilities previously handled by women, but women are predominantly found washing clothes, cooking, and cleaning around the house. The men in Kangaita are responsible for farming, building, and home repair chores. The men irrigate their gardens using the water supplied by the community water system. Some of the families even use a homemade sprinkler that allows them to irrigate large areas of their garden during the dryer season.

by Melissa Perry, Oyugis, Kenya

There is no formal system for water management in my town. The boys who deliver water on their bicycles are individuals working for themselves.

There was piped water in my town but since I've been in Oyugis there has not been piped running water. Many homes are equipped with faucets, showers, etc., but they don't work.

Farmers usually try to plant near a river or stream so they can easily fetch water for their crops.

by Bryce Sitter, Mobile Clinic, Kajiado, Kenya

There is no farming, except a few places in the district where irrigation is possible from wells. The district water engineer is in charge of gazetted water schemes. In the home, the woman fetches the water and does all domestic duties involving water. The wife gives the husband a gourd of drinking water when she returns home. Women actually have dents in their heads where leather straps from carrying water have shaped their skull. Young men guard the water sources; these duties are often passed down from generation to generation.

by Barbara Hinsman, Vigeze Village, Vihiga, Kenya

In Kenyan families the woman is fully responsible for managing water supplies. Mama decides how much water is needed for the day, and then she either goes to fetch it herself or she sends the children. Girls are most often seen collecting water, but boys can also assist when needed. Then Mama delegates how much water is needed for each task. Typical uses for water include drinking, cooking, washing floors, dishes and clothes, bathing, feeding livestock, and watering tree and vegetable seedlings. If, however, the family builds a water tank and roof catchment system, the decision, resources, and labor to build the tank must come from the man of the house.

Farmers in Vihiga rely on the rain rather than irrigating their crops in any way. Farmers fear too much rain and too little rain. They combat heavy rains by digging trenches to trap heavily flowing water, which is potentially harmful to crops, and by building well-secured terraces on their farms to prevent soil erosion. Lack of rain, on the other hand, is more difficult to deal with. If a water source exists nearby, farmers will water the more expensive crops, such as green vegetables and tomatoes, but maize, the staple food, will be left to dry. Fortunately for the Maragoli people, the dry season here is short, and both drought and famine are uncommon.

by Patrick Campbell, Mombasa, Kenya

Water in Kenya is managed by the ministry of water. In families it is generally a group effort, though the women play a more significant role. The men may use the water for bathing and perhaps irrigation, but women are responsible for cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and supplying drinking water for the family.

Most farmers depend on the rain. Those near a source of water may practice some form of irrigation; others may dig a borehole that will provide water that is saline but usable in emergencies.

by David Frommell, Bagoo, Rift Valley Province, Kenya

Water and its management are issues typically addressed by women in Kericho. The Kipsigis tribe is a patriarchal social unit. The woman's duties include fetching water, if necessary, for use in cleaning, cooking, and farming. The men, upon seeing a need, supply the women with the tools necessary for water-related work: water tanks, piping schemes, pumps, gutters for roof catchment.

Within Kerico Municipality, the town council manages the operations of the water works and distribution system. Tasks include treatment, maintenance, sales, and revenue collection.

Generally, farmers in Kerico District rely upon the ample rainfall to irrigate their crops. A drought results in famine, as does extremely heavy rainfall. Farmers in the drier areas of the District are beginning to design irrigation schemes using local rivers.

by Glenna Snider, Osorongai, Kenya

Women are responsible for managing water in my community. They collect it, cook, wash, and bathe their children. They are responsible for providing the men with water for drinking and bathing. Farming is managed according to the rains. Crops are harvested just as the dry season is beginning, and no crops are planted until the rains begin again. Food is scarce during the dry season. Farmers among the rivers have small-scale irrigation systems. The water is either piped to a small area, or a series of ditches can be opened to the river to supply water to small areas.

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