Thirsty Cities In War

Access to water in Pate island (Kenya)

Written By: vince

Most of the groundwater resources within the Lamu district, on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, are saline and, in general, not suitable for human and animal consumption, except for the water from dunal and coral reef formations. Dunal formations bearing relatively good aquifers are present and represent the main water supply for the town of Lamu. They also provide water around Pate village, in Pate Island , North of Lamu, with relatively fresh water from open shallow wells. Unfortunately no water bearing formation is present in large quantities and of suitable quality north of Pate village and the inhabitants of the villages of Siyu, Faza, Chundwa, Kisingitini, Mtawabanga,Myabogi and Mbwajumwali, as well as those living in Ndau island, depend on rainwater collection for their drinking water needs, while water from shallow well, tapping relatively salty water, is mainly used for cleaning and other domestic purposes. Rainwater is collected from roofs but also using “djabias”, which are man-made sloping concrete collection surfaces, conveying water into an underground tank. According to the villagers, though, even after a good rainy season, most of the djabias are not filled up. This is mainly due to poor design as very often the storage tank is oversized or the catchment area is under-designed. Further poor guttering, cracks on both catchment areas and within the storage tanks and bad to none maintenance reduce significantly the effectiveness of the systems. Indeed, maintenance is in general very poor. This paper reports the results of a survey carried out, between July and October 2005. The aim of the survey was to identify which problems were affecting the rainwater collection and where it would make sense to intervene in order to improve the access to water. Since then many more of such systems have been added, but the access to water is still critical at the end of the hot season, when the storage reservoirs are running dry and water will have to be brought in from Lamu at a high cost. The houses destroyed by the 2010 fire in Faza have now been rebuilt or repaired and corrugated iron sheets have replaced most of the traditional “makuti” roofs, allowing for an improved individual harvesting, but the problems remain dire from January to April, depending from the amount and frequency of the rains. With the construction of the LAPSSET (Lamu Port for South Sudan and Ethiopia) the island will certainly become less isolated and it is important to gain more data on the availability of water and how to harvest it, in order to allow for sustainable development.

 This report is tackling only the situation of the systems used to collect rainwater and give some hints on how to improve them. A similar study should be carried out to locate any suitable water source in order to solve the precarious situation of the inhabitants during the dry season. Pate Island front page

DOWNLOAD HERE: djabiahs website version 1.pdf

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