Tale of a Sh24 million water project as graft, greed erode gains

Cattle drink water at a borehole, which is part of the PENWA water project in Jusa village, East Yimbo ward. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]
A multi-million shilling donor-funded water project in Siaya County is embroiled in mismanagement and political patronage.

Over 60,000 households that were targeted upon completion of the project’s four phases are likely to miss out on the expected benefits.

The project, Pi E Ngima (PENWA) – Dholuo for water is life – was established 10 years ago at a cost of Sh24 million but it is yet to benefit residents of Bondo sub-county.

Initially managed by 256 women groups, the project did well until three years later when the founders were allegedly ‘kicked out’.

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It is claimed that a certain political clique from the area interfered by planting their cronies in the project and ejecting directors who had been seconded by the groups.

In April 2005, Eunice Oyugi led a group of women to form an association, PENWA with a mission was to provide piped water to Bondo residents.

With funds from Zagori, a water company on Greece, the women conceptualised and supervised the project.

According to Ms Oyugi, they did not have funds and therefore approached several NGOs and Action Aid linked them up with the water company in Greece.

“The Zagori Water Company gave us Sh23 million while the local CDF kitty contributed Sh1 million. We had completed the first phase,” she said.

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Private company

But in 2010, members resolved to register the water project as a private company, Pi E Ngima Water and Sanitation Company (PENWASCO).

The association’s secretary, Emily Adhiambo told Sunday Standard that seven members were appointed to the board.

“We realised the signatories had been changed without our notice,” she said.

But Gilbert Achando, who is accused of kicking out the founder managers absolved himself from blame.

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“A meeting was called and members resolved to appoint a new board to oversee implementation of the project.

Those claiming that the directors were kicked out of office are not sincere,” Achando said.

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