A partnership improving water access for pastoralist communities in Turkana, Kenya will now work with the most vulnerable to help protect them from the threat of coronavirus.
Practical Action and the Grundfos Foundation (Poul Due Jensen Foundation) have been working on a project for the past year to improve access to drinking water for 72,000 of Kenya’s most marginalised people.
Recognising the impact that coronavirus will have on remote communities, Practical Action and the Foundation have launched a joint response to help limit the spread of the virus within these communities. Two-thirds of the population of Turkana have no access to water and less than 30 per cent practice adequate handwashing. As a result, authorities have identified communities in the region to be at a high risk of contracting coronavirus.
Together, Practical Action and the Grundfos Foundation will continue to install solar-powered water pumps to increase access to water for handwashing and improved hygiene. Local technicians will be trained to maintain the water points and Practical Action will work with local government to ensure families continue to have water access, long into the future.
As part of the project, Practical Action will introduce two new interventions:
- Broadcasting of coronavirus and hygiene messaging to approximately 5,000 households through local radio, television, mobile phone messages and community noticeboards. This work will be strengthened by working with 200 community health volunteers, local government and area chiefs to reach local communities.
- Distribution of water storage containers, soap, handwashing stations and health and sanitation kits to the most vulnerable.
Corporate Partnerships Manager for Practical Action, Ian Derbyshire said, “Practical Action and the Grundfos Foundation remain committed to supporting communities in Turkana. As coronavirus has spread across the world, with the support of our most committed partners, we’ve been able to respond to the crisis and continue to help families protect themselves more effectively. Without the support of the Foundation, thousands of people across Turkana County could be at risk. Together, we can work to ensure this doesn’t happen and we’d like to thank Grundfos Foundation for their continued support.”
In Kenya, the spread of the virus has advanced to the community transmission phase, with twenty-seven counties affected and fast spreading across the country. Although there has only been a very small amount of confirmed case in Turkana County, it is a vulnerable area due to its vastness, porous borders that neighbour three countries (Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia) and the location of three refugee camps in Kakuma and Kaloboyei.
These areas are characterised by limited access to safe water and poor hygiene practices. Women, girls, people living with disabilities, the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions now face greater vulnerability than the usual pre-pandemic prevailing.
Executive Director Kim Nøhr Skibsted from the Grundfos Foundation said “Proper handwashing is the single most effective prevention method against coronavirus. It is incredibly important not only to get the message out, but also to create the necessary infrastructure for it. That’s why we’re proud to support Practical Action’s efforts in Turkana.”
Farida Bulhan Aliwa, Practical Action’s East Africa Director added “These communities are already facing the threat of climate change, which is making it increasingly difficult to access safe drinking water. Droughts are becoming more common and it’s almost impossible to grow crops. Water access will be life-changing and during this time of uncertainty, we’re pleased to be able to respond in a way that will help families become more resilient and come out of this stronger.”
For more information, or to get involved as a donor, contact Ian Derbyshire on 01926 634 527 or email Ian.Derbyshire@practicalaction.org.uk.
For media enquiries, please contact Andrew Heath on 01926 634 552 or email Andrew.Heath@practicalaction.org.uk.