Women queue for long hours to collect water

Ikolomani residents spend hours queuing for drinking water. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

As the country marks World Water Day today, residents of Imirilu and Ikuywa villages in Ikolomani Constituency have little to celebrate.

Long queues at the spring are a common occurrence, with residents, mostly women, spending hours sometimes until midnight to fetch water for domestic use.

“The commodity is scarce and we are forced to queue for long hours just to fetch a jerrycan,” said Mildred Linakasi.

“Women are at risk because they stay out late... the spring is drying up.”

Those who can’t wait for long, collect stagnant water which exposes them to waterborne diseases like cholera and diarrhoea.

The Standard found Tobius Masiti, 52, queuing with the women. He stepped in to relieve his pregnant wife because she could not stand for long. She also had other chores waiting for her back home.

“My wife is pregnant and I cannot allow her to stand for long. I know culture frowns at a man fetching water for domestic use but what else could I do?” he posed.

“The local authority must do something because the spring serves two villages with up to 100 people lining up to fetch water at one point.”

Patrick Amira, another villager, blames the county government for failing to ensure every household has clean piped water as promised.

“The county had a programme known as Amatsi khumughuru, meaning water at your doorstep, but we have no access to water... not only water but clean water,” he said.

He added that they had visited the Constituency Development Funds (CDF) offices and Ikolomani MP Ben Shinali had promised to send his handlers to assess the spring but nothing had been done.

“Officials from the county and the area MP's office promised to drill more boreholes but that has never been actualised,” says Amira.

When he assumed office, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya launched a programme to get every household clean water, but this remains a dream.

Last year when signing into law Kakamega Water Bill 2021, he directed the Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Company (KCWSC) to ensure he realises his dream of everyone having access to clean piped water.

“We have been having problems with bills. Our clients have not been paying for water but this money is meant to ensure the water agency works efficiently,” said Oparanya.

Last week, KCWSC Chief Executive Officer Christabel Ashiono said they had embarked on a crackdown on illegal water connections and repair of water lines.

“We also discovered that our main water line had problems that needed repair,” said Ashiono.