February 2, 2023

Daaba’s Journey From Drought to Sustainable Water

Daaba is a traditionally nomadic and pastoralist community located in Isiolo County, in North Eastern Kenya, with an estimated population of 9,000 people. In 2011, Well Aware rehabilitated an existing borehole water well in one part of the community, and drilled a new well in another part. The resulting clean water has transformed the community and its future in many ways.

No More Losses from Drought

Daaba is in an arid region that suffers numerous episodes of drought and famine each year. It is well populated with semi-permanent houses and while the community does have small businesses, a large percentage relies on livestock for their income and livelihood.

In 2022, Kenya recorded one of the worst droughts in the country, with Isiolo county categorized under “Alarm/ severe Phase” (National drought bulletin, January 23). A large number of communities in the area lost numerous herds of livestock to drought and family members to famine.

But, Daaba was saved from this loss, due to Well Aware’s water systems. Before, the community would have been extremely affected, but because there is a sustainable source of clean water now, the community members can rest knowing this drought will no longer cause deaths of livestock and human life.

Growing Population & Permanent Settlements

Despite recurring interference from elephants, the two water systems continue to work and provide over 1,000 homes with clean water for drinking and for livestock. In fact, there has been a 30% increase in settlement compared to 2018, when more than 80% of the population was nomadic, moving around to various water sources to nourish their livestock. Now, people continue to move in, create permanent homes, and congregate around this clean water anchor. Over time, Well Aware has had to replace several pipelines to ensure sustainability of the water system for this constantly growing population. And last year, Well Aware built a perimeter wall around the borehole and its tanks that has successfully curbed elephant damage from the system.

Improved Health, Hygiene, and Sanitation

Because there’s competition for water between human beings, wildlife and domestic animals in Daaba, Well Aware has facilitated community trainings to encourage them to prioritize people over animals and also practice hygienic ways of handling water. We’re happy to note that animal and human water collection points have been separated, which has drastically decreased the amount of waterborne illnesses spread throughout the community. A number of the homes also boil their water before drinking as a safety precaution. Although the Community is yet to fully embrace use of toilets for human defecation, there has been great improvement with 20% more homes building latrines compared to 2018. It is, however, good to note that there is increased personal and household hygiene, leading to a healthier society overall.

Transformed Education and Increased Graduation Rates

Lastly, Daaba has also seen a dramatic educational transformation. Previously, many school-aged children could not attend even primary school, let alone graduate and attend university, all due to water challenges and a nomadic lifestyle. Now, with a lasting source of clean water and more families building permanent settlements, Daaba has seen increased school attendance, with more children than ever graduating and going on to college. In the video below, the headmaster shares a bit more about how the Well Aware system has really turned the lives of his students’ around.

“A couple of years ago, this place was not a place to live in. There is something new in their life, something that has really been restored in them, something that has really turned their life around. So we need water….water, water, everything is water.” – Frances, Daaba Primary School

Daaba is yet another community that Well Aware is lucky to work with and the future of its 9,000+ residents continues to look brighter because of their lasting access to plentiful clean water.

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