Introduction (Context and Challenge):
Kajiado County is a County in the former Rift Valley Province of Kenya. As of 2019, Kajiado County spanned an area of 21,292.7 km2, with a recorded population of 1,117,840. The County has a total population of 1,117,840 people, representing 316,179 households with an average size of 3.5 persons per household and a population density of 51 people per square kilometre (KNBS 2019 Census).
Kajiado County is divided into 5 sub-counties (Kajiado Central, Kajiado East, Kajiado West, Kajiado North & Kajiado South) and 25 Wards with Kajiado West being the largest and Kajiado North Sub-county being the smallest in terms of area in square kilometres.
Kajiado County is predominantly semi-arid, thus plagued by frequent droughts, yet livestock rearing and crop farming are the main economic activities in the County. Tourism is also a major attraction. The County has inadequate unimproved water resources (ponds/pans, dams, streams/ rivers, springs) and thus relies on improved water sources such as boreholes, protected springs and piped water. Water shortage, mainly due to borehole failures is therefore a perennial challenge affecting both urban and rural communities.
It also affected the County Government since it could not give timely and adequate water services to its residents due to a lack of information for specific assets, i.e. pump/motors and gensets resulting in delayed response to repair boreholes. Budgeting and costing for water services maintenance and repairs was also not informed by the status on the ground. Thus, while seeking to improve water services, the County Government of Kajiado had challenges with water monitoring in low-resource settings, making it difficult to know which areas had boreholes and which ones needed new boreholes, for example.
The other challenge was knowing the functionality status of the water systems, making it difficult to service the boreholes that needed repair and maintenance. This translated into water shortages due to delayed response to calls for repair since the technicians would have to first find out the location of the boreholes for them to go and assess and determine what parts needed to be repaired. They would sometimes discover that the parts that needed replacement were obsolete, i.e. spares were no longer available, causing further delay in restoring the boreholes.
The County Government was aware of privately-owned boreholes, but the drilling was not evidence-informed, and thus boreholes were being sunk everywhere, sometimes close to one another, while some areas completely lacked boreholes. Were data available, the County Government would have stopped licensing the drilling of boreholes in areas with enough boreholes and would have pointed applicants to the nearest boreholes to make sharing arrangements.
The above challenges arose because the County had no data/asset registry, which would show, among other things, the location and details of the community water systems; the number of households covered by the water system; the type of the water systems; the components of the system; and the age of the physical state of the components.
Implementation of the practice (Solution Path):
- Technical officers from the Water, Irrigation, Environment and Natural Resources Department pinned the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of water services down to the lack of a real-time water sources location and water equipment registry, which would enhance decision-making by management and service delivery by technicians. Through the County Governor’s office, the Water Department sought support from Welthungerheilfe (WHH) to establish the registry and WHH came on board through an MoU. WHH is Germany's biggest private organization for development and humanitarian aid with a goal of Zero Hunger by 2030.
- Technical teams from WHH and the County’s Water Department embarked on an audit of the water systems (sources and assets), both privately-owned and public.
- Data enumerators were hired to do data collection of the County’s private and public water boreholes and the data was fed into a database that was established. The activity was carried out in 6 months from January 2022 to June 2022 in the 5 sub-counties of Kajiado County.
- The County’s Water engineers also got input from sub-county officers and wananchi (community members) on other water sources and systems.
- Data cleaning was done and gaps were identified.
- Procurement of a portal developer was done and Fundi Fix consultants came on board.
- Participatory designing of the water systems registry portal was done and two dashboards were created for the Department and identification of dashboard Admins was done.
- The portal was validated by a multi-sectoral team involving all departments, and customization of the M-water portal to fit Kajiado County needs was done in July/August 2022.
- The 2-part portal comprising the mWATER Asset Management Dashboard (location registry for water sources) and the mWATER O&M Dashboard (water equipment registry) was then integrated into the County’s website to enable knowledge-sharing with the public.
- Training of 16 water officers on the M-water portal/surveyor was done.
- The portal was launched by the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Water & Environment.
Key implementers and collaborators and their roles
- WHH (Welthungerheilfe)/(German Agro Action) provided technical and financial support towards data collection, portal development, training and borehole repairs.
- Fundi Fix was the Consultant App developer of the mWATER portal.
- Kajiado County water officers assisted by hired enumerators conducted field data collection and worked with Fundi Fix to develop the portal.
- Other technical officers from other departments validated the portal.
- WHH engaged the software developer directly and facilitated the data collection exercise. The County is not privy to the cost.
- The County used its Water Department staff to work hand in hand with WHH and the App developer.
- The County has full control of the portal and its IT staff have been trained on maintenance of the portal. Other staff will be trained on the use of the portal, to be able to guide members of the public who may approach them for help in using the portal.
- Continuous data collection using the app to continue improving water services.
- Continuous use and updating of the dashboard to provide up-to-date information to the public.
- Evidence-informed budget allocation to the Water Department to sustain data collection, analysis, timely decision-making and implementation of services, and sensitization of the community on where the water sources are, how to share and take care of them, and how to report incidences to the County Government.
- Continuous sensitization of residents on water systems management.
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