Northern Kenya Water Project

The Challenge

Water systems in rural Kenya, such as in Turkana and Wajir, often can fail due to routine maintenance and repair not being carried out. In Kenya, an estimated 40 per cent of water supplied is not paid for, largely due to customers not receiving bills or a lack of follow up with those who do not pay. With insufficient funds to repair or replace facilities, communities resort to traditional water sources, such as rivers, which are far away and not safe to drink. This exposes people to becoming sick, and to being attacked on the long journeys to collect water. Women and girls are particularly affected, as they are responsible for 63 per cent of domestic water collection, and walk up to ten kilometres a day in search of water. However, it does not have to be this way. Whilst levels of poverty in Turkana and Wajir are the highest in Kenya (more than80 per cent of people live on less than $2 per day), people are prepared to pay for water. Local government suppliers sometimes have the financial resources needed to meet community needs, but may lack the technical skills and capacity to design and supervise the construction of high quality water infrastructure.

The Project

Mary Akiru, from Lokichar nr Turkana now receives clean water through a water pump installed in her village from a similar Oxfam project. Photo: Jane Beesley/Oxfam

Oxfam has been working in Kenya since 1963. The majority of our work has focused on addressing humanitarian needs triggered by drought, including providing emergency water supplies. Increasingly, our focus has shifted to address the underlying causes of water shortages, and make communities increasingly resilient to drought, a cycle which repeats itself every three to four years. All Oxfam programmes aim to increase the Kenyan Government’s capacity to provide essential services, leading to long-term sustainability. This project will: 

  • Improve the availability of clean, safe drinking water and reduce the incidence of water-related illnesses, by installing new solar-powered water pumping systems in Turkana and Wajir and working with water suppliers to improve the quality of their service and trial new methods of water delivery. 
  • Ensure the sustainability of water provision by helping water suppliers to become more efficient at delivering water and collecting user fees. 
  • Help the water sector to become more transparent and accountable by building strong links between public authorities and the private sector, and sharing experiences and good practice.

Project Impacts So Far

  • 100,000 people are now able to use clean water thanks to regular monitoring of the water points in Turkana and Wajir, carried out in this project. 
  • Water providers have been supported to identify the key challenges to providing a reliable supply of water, and developed plans to address these challenges, such as by installing water meters.

Expected Outcomes

  • 200,000 people in Turkana and Wajir have reliable access to water by the end of the project. 
  • Five key water providers trained to improve long term water provision, including by improving fee collection processes and the reliability of the water supply through maintenance training. 
  • 20 per cent increase in collection of payments for water through establishing water kiosks and electronic billing system in one town, thus improving accountability of the service to users. 
  • Two solar powered water systems implemented for further increasing sustainability of water supply.

How Your Support Will Change Lives

Support five public water providers to deliver a better quality water service to over 100,000 people. 

  • Monitor the existing water points in two counties, to ensure that over 100,000 people enjoy a reliable supply of clean, safe water. 
  • Train water suppliers in three towns in techniques to reduce water wastage, improve billing and fee collection, and share information with their customers in a transparent way, so as to improve water delivery and customer satisfaction. 
  • Trial innovative techniques to collect water fees in Lodwar, for example through mobile phones, to ensure water providers have the funds needed to maintain and improve water facilities.

Provide clean, safe drinking water to 10,000 people in Lodwar and Wajir towns by project end.

  • Working with public water providers in Wajir, design and implement solar-powered water pumping systems to provide 2,500people with a supply of clean water close to their homes.

Help the water sector to become more transparent and accountable.

  • Set up an automated water kiosk in at least one town, which will provide water, record water sales and ensure transparent revenue collection for the water providers. 
  • Co-chair meetings with water regulators to discuss ways to ensure water is delivered and water revenues are accounted for in a transparent way. Document and share good water governance practices, so successful initiatives can be replicated in other parts of the country. 
  • Explore new ways of financing, operating and maintaining water and sanitation initiatives, for example through encouraging local businesses to work with their communities to maintain water points.

Regina’s Story

Photo: Jane Beesley/Oxfam

Regina Aemun, 30, from Nakwamekwi, lives with her husband and two children. She says that she used to complain to the water provider in Lodwar that there was not enough water for everyone. Through an Oxfam project in the region doing similar work to this project, a new borehole was drilled in partnership with the water provider. Now Regina says not only does she have enough water for her family and her children, but there are other benefits. She tells us “‘Now I have more time to do jobs around the house, and for my business. I fry fish to sell. Business has improved because of water, and I have more money and food for the family. With the amount of water we now have, we can bathe at any time.” With your support this project could help more families like Regina’s access clean water.

Thank You

For further information on Oxfam’s work to improve water and sanitation, please contact Oxfam on 0300 200 1300 or email


Oxfam Kenya Water Project