Handover of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Facility in Samburu County - Remarks as prepared for Sheila Macharia, Family Health Team Leader; Office of Health, Population and Nutrition; USAID Kenya and East Africa

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Director of Medical Services, Dr Kioko,
Governor Lenolkulal,
Deputy Governor Lemarkat
County Executive Committee Member for Health Dr. Ekai
County Executive Committee Member for Water Lekupe
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I’m so happy to be here in Samburu this morning! We are here to participate in the hand-over of the Rapunye community water, sanitation and hygiene — or WASH — facility to help families in Samburu live healthy and resilient lives. This water facility has been supported by USAID to complement the excellent work the Government of Kenya and Samburu County are doing to improve people’s health and prosperity, and is one of the many activities USAID has supported under our APHIAplus IMARISHA project that operates across Kenya’s northern arid lands.

Governor Lenolkulal, thank you for hosting us today. I congratulate you for your admirable work to improve health in Samburu County, including the construction of new maternity wings, equipping laboratories, and acquiring ambulances to meet the growing demand for health services. This is no easy feat considering the sheer size and diversity of this beautiful county. I also applaud the Government of Kenya for the progress it is making toward its constitutional provision defining water as a basic right and for passing the 2014 Water Bill into law.

This bill has devolved the functions of water service provision and empowers counties to draft their own water legislation to meet the needs of their residents.

Why does USAID invest in WASH? Quite simply, water is life. And everyone should have access to clean water, no matter where they live. Access to clean water is something many of us take for granted. But, as we just heard from Lucy Lolosoli, the reality is that for so many people living here, this very basic right, which so often determines the difference between life and death, is not available to everyone. Globally, 1 in 10 people lack access to safe water. In Kenya, about 18 million people do not have access to safe drinking water.

Diarrhea, which is closely linked to poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water, contributes to nearly 7 percent of all deaths in Kenya, and remains a leading cause of mortality among children.

The direct links between WASH and health are also evident for mothers and newborn babies. Pregnant women want to deliver in facilities with water and sanitation, and babies born in hygienic environments are more likely to survive. WASH also promotes household food security and improved nutrition, and mitigates resource-based conflicts — promoting peaceful coexistence among communities.

Right now, over 2,000 people in this area can now cook with, wash with, and drink clean water from a reliable source that harnesses the power of the sun. And the garden of vegetables growing under the water tank is supplementing the nutritional needs of over sixty children affected by HIV/AIDS. But beyond the numbers, the long-lasting impact of what we have built and what Samburu County will carry on is immeasurable.

Investments in WASH have a sustainable impact on health and resilience when three conditions are met: 1) expanded access to hardware, such as the facility we are handing over today, 2) community participation in maintaining and using this facility, and 3) an enabling policy and institutional environment. I am hopeful that these three conditions will continue to be met in Samburu so the community can maintain and benefit from the facility we toured this morning. We ask that the county consider expanding facilities such as these to neighbouring villages and schools, and to continuously monitor water quality for safety while working with the water user committee to sustain the facility. It is very important that the land on which this facility sits remains protected as a community water resource point.

As we hand over this WASH facility to the county, I once again thank the Ministry of Health and Samburu County for your continued partnership and leadership. Thank you, too, to our implementing partner APHIAplus IMARISHA, led by Amref for their excellent support in the county. Partnering together to invest in health and WASH programs that will improve the survival, well-being, and productivity of the people of this great nation is a critical component of strengthening health and resilience in Kenya’s arid lands. By working together, we can make Kenya the leader it can and will be in the 21st century.

Asanteni sana.

Archer’s Post, Samburu County, Kenya
Issuing Country