She stops briefly to catch her breath as sweat flows down her dusty face onto her bare chest. Her eyes scan the horizon, taking in details of the rough terrain she is yet to negotiate with her tired legs before she finally reaches home.
Pangs of hunger gnaw at her tiny stomach and a cold shiver runs through her anatomy albeit briefly. Regina Akai, has become inured the treacherous life of hunger, thirst and fatigue she has to endure daily to bring home a jerrican of water for family use.
She left her home at the break of dawn to walk for many kilometres to a dried up riverbank. Several women with jerricans were already there by the time she arrived. For hours they silently dug into the sand then waited for water to collect before scooping it into their containers.
The journey back home was more tedious. The blazing Turkana sun was burning the earth and its inhabitants with almost malicious fury. Although her feet had trekked through the rocky and sandy paths that weaved through the wilderness, they had never really been used to the heat. The sand, by this time of the day was like burning coals.
Regina always prayed to God before embarking on the journey that she would not meet wild animals that prowl the land and that God will spare her attacks from bandits and cattle rustlers that are known to strike with lightning speed. By now she was used to the numerous poisonous snakes that hide in the rocks and the sand.
“I have hoped and prayed that one day a miracle will happen and water will be brought to our manyattas. My prayers made me smile when I heard news from my son that plenty of water had been discovered under the earth in Turkana. Now we have water and oil. But that seems to be just that, a dream. I hope it becomes a reality in my lifetime.” She says gently as she squats to pick up her jerrican and complete her journey home.
Despite the fact that water is the most common substance on earth; it actually covers more than 70% of the earth’s surface; residents of Turkana County have never had easy access to it.
For years, Turkana, the second largest county in Kenya covering 77,000 square kilometres, was known for its encounter with drought, hunger and perennial insecurity from violence perpetrated against its people by cattle rustlers from neighbouring communities. Then suddenly, a research by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) revealed that the county sat on more water wells than any other county in Kenya.
The discovery of water came fast on the heels of that of oil from underneath the burning sand.
Regina, a residence of Nakaparaparai Village near Lodwar town is among those who were delighted by the news. Her neighbours from the small Lobei Kotaruk ward in Loima sub-County suffer similar fate. They have to fetch water from killer wells where 6-7 people have to line up from top to bottom to get the supply, it is deep and dangerous.
When UNESCO announced the discovery of two aquifers in Northern Turkana, Regina was elated. The study showed that the region is home to a reserve of 250million cubic meters of water, which is naturally replenished at the rate of about 3.4 billion meters cubic per year.
Many believed this wealth could provide the solutions to water problems not just in the drought – wrecked region in northern Kenya but for the entire country.
She still hopes that with good governance and management, the water and oil discoveries will transform Turkana from its medieval status into a civilized 21st Century economy.
The 2009 Census report showed that estimated 60% of residents in Turkana are pastoralists who have long struggled with seasonal drought. The potential for further environmental degradation in already fragile ecological condition is a concern for those living near the oil zones.
Reserves of land will be appropriate for mining activities and risks of air, soil and water pollution are significant.
The Director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Richard Kering said that they have received environmental impact assessment report to help monitor the drilling process.
Although Tullow Oil Company assures that horizontal drilling will not affect water in Lake Turkana it is feared oil exploration around the region might interfere with ecosystem.
According to Dr Alain Gachet, a French scientist and President of Radar Technologies International, Oil will naturally be found above the water and drilling could affect the water tables. Both resources are vital to transforming the livelihoods of Turkana people and joint research with oil companies could establish how one could be affected by the other.
For the economic stakeholders, there is a responsibility to ensure that the exploration and exploitation of all of the regions resources is an inclusive process, which is subject to inflexible control.
It is Regina’s prayer that soon she will be able to sleep in peace and use her energy for other homemaking chores instead of fetching water. It is her hope that soon she won’t have to risk her life in search of this life-giving commodity.
Governor Nanok drinks water while having a chat with water CEC Beatrice Askul and Water C.O
BY ROBERT KARIUKI KALOKOL, TURKANA CENTRAL
The recently commissioned Kalokol water supply project is expected to provide piped water to an estimated 15,000 people. The project worth Sh. 2 million involved the drilling of a borehole, constructing a rising main of 420 metres from the source to the tank, with 2 generators of 18 KVA.
Kalokol residents have a water demand of 300,000 litres per day with each of the 15,000 residents getting a minimum of 20 litres per day.
Residents of the water-scarce area have welcomed the project. The borehole has a yield of 18,000 litres per hour and with 16 hours of pumping then 288,000 litres of water will be supplied per day, the water will be stored in a steel tank with a capacity of 144,000 litres thus it will be filled twice a day.
Governor Josphat Nanok while commissioning the project described it as a solution to the water challenge the residents have been experiencing.
He added, “The only job left now is putting up structures along the river banks to prevent flooding.”
The borehole has a yield of 18,000 litres per hour and with 16 hours of pumping then 288,000 litres of water will be supplied per day, the water will be stored in a steel tank with a capacity of 144,000 litres thus it will be filled twice a day.
The water, irrigation and agriculture county executive Beatrice Askul urged Kalokol town residents to install water taps on the existing open pipes which will enable them to easily control the flow of water hence reducing wastage.
Kalokol ward MCA John Lochakolong said the project has come a long way and since he was put in office the residents have not had the opportunity to fully enjoy water services however he questioned about contracts being issued to outsiders.
“We thank the ministry of water and Oxfam in collaborating and making this work, the residents can access water easily right now however
I would like the county government to consider us when issuing out contracts. Contracts should be given out to Kalokol residents whenever there is a project in the region and am surprised when outsiders get the contracts, this is not fair at all,” the MCA said.
County launches eco-lodge on Lake Turkana.
Turkana county governor Josphat Nanok last month commissioned the construction of a 40-bed eco-lodge to boost tourism sector in the county.
BY NACHIPON KATABOI LOKITOE ANG’ABER, TURKANA NORTH
County launches eco-lodge on Lake Turkana
Speaking when he laid the foundation stone of the project in Lokitoe Ang’aber in Turkana North Sub-County, Nanok said the lodge will also create employment to hundreds of youth in the county.
Located near the shores of Lake Turkana, Nanok said the project is part of the county’s measures to boost the tourism sector in the county and also in the entire country.
“In order to open up the county for tourists the county government is putting up two eco lodges one in Turkana North and another in Kainuk in Turkana South,”
The lodge will also offer accommodation for tourists to complement Eliye springs lodge, which has been offering accommodation to tourists at times being overwhelmed. He added that the lodge will also have a conference facility where meetings can be held.
Tourists visiting the area will also enjoy the rare moment to watch birds from the lodge.
The lodge is located at the area where international and domestic tourists gathered to watch the historic eclipse of the moon last year.
County Tourism and Culture Eliye Springs on the western shores of Lake Turkana.
executive committee member Linus Ebenyo said the project will also have a presidential suit.
“The project was commissioned on November and is expected to be completed by March next year,” said
Ebenyo said the community had The lodge will also offer accommodation for tourists to complement Eliye springs lodge, which has been offering accommodation to tourists at times being overwhelmed.
He added that the lodge will also have a conference facility where meetings can be held. donated the 50 acres of land where the lodge is being constructed. He added that the county government will be seeking to work with the private sector to improve services at the eco-lodge.
The county has embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign that seeks to market the county as the cradle of mankind. The campaign seems to have borne fruit with the recent endorsement of the UK High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner
who said the UK government will work with the county to promote
At the same time, Nanok said the county is investing heavily in the infrastructural development to ease movement of goods and services as well as tourists to the various destinations.
He said oil exploration company Tullow Oil, has already injected 140 million Kenyan shillings to the construction of roads in the area.
Nanok said he recently held talks with Infrastructure cabinet secretary Michael Kamau to help develop the roads that fall under the national government docket.
Tourist wishing to visit the lodge can access it through an airstrip at Kalokol about 30 Kilometers from the lodge. Commercial flights from Nairobi and Eldoret also land at Lodwar airstrip where tourist can hire vehicles to the Lodge.
Tullow Kenya has handed over a Kshs.18 million-water project to the residents of Kataboi in Turkana North.
BY JOE EKAI
KATABOI, TURKANA NORTH
Beatrice Askul(left), Christopher Nakuleu (c) and a Tullow official during the commissioning of the Kataboi Water Project.
Tullow Kenya has handed over a Kshs.18 million-water project to the residents of Kataboi in Turkana North.
The project, which consists of a borehole, solar-powered submersible pump and a 20,000 litre storage tank, is expected to benefit more than 5,000 residents as well as provide water to nearby public institutions including the Kataboi health centre, Kataboi primary school and Kataboi girls’ secondary school. It was handed over on
Previously, students from the Kataboi Girls’ secondary
kilometres in search of water. The project is expected to cut this distance for the girls as well as members of the local community. The latest handover comes less than six months after Tullow handed over a similar project to residents of Komusia and Nalemkais villages in
southern Turkana. The project was valued at Ksh16 million.
Turkana North M.P Christopher Nakuleu hands over the project to Kataboi Water Services committee chairman.Tullow Kenya Country Manager, Martin Mbogo said the project fits within the company’s broader commitment to bringing real and lasting benefit to host communities in its operational areas through investing in similar social investment projects cutting across health, education, alternative livelihoods and capacity building.
“During our previous engagements with the local community, poor access to safe drinking water was identified as
a challenge for the community. Tullow is therefore proud that through a working partnership with the local community, the area leadership as well as both the National and County governments, we have worked together to solve this challenge,” said Mr Mbogo.
He added that access to safe drinking water means less spending on health by the community members and
more on health, welfare and empowerment within communities. “We are committed to partnering with communities across our operational areas in addressing this challenge,” explained
A young girl drinks from the Kataboi Water Project tap.
Previously, students from them Kataboi Girls’ secondary school had to trek over five kilometres in search of water. The project is expected to cut this distance for the girls as well as members of the local community.
The latest handover comes less than six months after Tullow handed over a Children at the Kataboi Wwater Project.
similar project to residents of Komusia and Nalemkais villages in southern Turkana. The project was valued at Ksh16 million.
In 2014, Tullow Kenya committed to spend Kshs.400 million in social investment projects across all its operational areas. Within Turkana County, some of the notable projects include construction of Kshs. 3 million dormitory at Nachukui Primary school in Turkana North. Tullow has also installed a solar powered lighting system for classrooms, dormitories, a
laboratory and administration offices at Kerio Boys Secondary School in Turkana South sub-county, which was installed at a cost of Kshs 2.4 million.
Through the Turkana Education Programme, Tullow has invested Kshs 30 million in providing bursaries to more than 3,000 secondary school students from the County. Further, the company has spent Kshs.16m in providing full secondary school scholarships to 55 bright and needy students from Turkana County.
The company has also awarded 15 Master’s Degree scholarships worth Kshs.75 million to scholars from Turkana County as part of the company’s annual Tullow Group Scholarship Scheme (TGSS). Tullow has also donated a mobile clinic worth Kshs15 million to Turkana County.