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Drought cycles in the Horn of Africa are now progressively shorter, with droughts occurring every 5 years or less. In a context where 80% of the population are poor or very poor, and have experienced both high food prices and restrictions on traditional livelihood strategies, the frequency of these droughts has seriously undermined the ability of the local population to recover from these shocks. This combination of factors threatens the way of life for the largely pastoralist population of the Arid and Semi Arid Lands in Northern Kenya.
La Nina Consortium conducted this EMMA assessment in Wajir County as part of contingency planning and preparedness efforts. The study aimed to shed light on what water was available, people’s access to this water, what transportation services were available and how private sector actors operated within this market. This EMMA compared the water market system in a “normal” year (2008) with that during an “emergency” year (2011).
In Wajir, there is a range of water sources and methods of accessing water. These range from long-existing water sources such as open water reservoirs, shallow wells and boreholes to water supplies that have been organized by individuals or communities and which ebb and flow depending on the need. In Wajir, these water supplies involve transporters such as water truckers as well as opportunistic water vendors who carry and sell water in a number of forms when the need dictates.
This assessment found that water availability and transportation services in the hydrologic catchment area of Wajir is sufficient to meet the unmet water needs of the population. However, water accessibility is restricted by purchasing power, asset ownership and by the type of water sources available in different communities. Access is especially problematic during the dry season. In addition, NGOs have been dominating the contracting of water trucks, which has effectively reduced the negotiating power of communities.
This report concludes that humanitarian efforts to provide water in Wajir can rely on the market and its actors and makes the following recommendations for market-based programming: supporting water access through water vouchers in villages with no borehole and through water vouchers for free water provision directly at boreholes where they exist; integrating cash for water into food security-focused cash transfer programs; improving the capacity of water points; and supporting the operation and maintenance of boreholes. In addition, the report recommends activities involving public health promotion, the promotion of accountability and improved governance, preparedness and DRR, advocacy on various fronts, defining triggers for emergency water provision and further analysis.