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Abakore solar powered water pumps: An improved way of delivering water in Wajir County

“Previously we used 80 litres of diesel to run the generator at this borehole and that cost us 10,000 ksh per day, but today with the solar water pumps,its virtually free!”   – Adan Q Yussuf, Chairperson Abakore Water Users Association.”

For over 25 years, Abdia Salah Mohamed, has drawn water from the Abakore Borehole 1(BH1) in Wajir County for her domestic use.  “Often there were a lot of congestion at this water point especially during drought when neighbouring shallow wells and water pans dried up or when fuel deliveries to run other pumps delayed for one reason or another,” Explains Abdia. . “As a result I used to spend a lot of time here, sometimes up to three hours waiting for my turn to get water.  This has changed now since the installation of the solar powered pump, I now spend less than 30 minutes!” She adds.

Through direct piped connections, the borehole serves a hospital, two primary schools, and one secondary school.  This has only been possible because now there is readily available and reliable water supply and the cost of maintaining the borehole has also gone down considerably.  “Previously we used 80 litres of diesel to run the generator at this borehole and that cost us 10,000 ksh per day, but today with the solar water pumps, it’s virtually free!” Explains Adan Qorgab Yussuf, the chairperson of Abakore Water Users Association, WUA.  Adan who was appointed to the position in July 2013, has used the borehole water for his animals and domestic use since 1971.

Although they are no longer spending money on fuel, the water association still charges the same amount they used to charge before. Abdi Bashey Omar, the chief of Saldiq location where the water point is located tells us that, “The county government has asked us to temporarily maintain the price levels so that people using the other borehole within the town that is still diesel run would not flock to Abakore BH 1. Though we also want our Water Users Association, WUA to build its account to enable us be ready to do repairs and maintenance of the water point without having to rely on NGOs or the government in case of breakdown, maintenance or when the machine requires servicing.”

Abdia Salah, 45 years old, and a mother of six, is one of the 12,000 people from Abakore centre and its environs who are now getting water from the solar powered Abakor

For a 200-litre drum of water they charge 30 Ksh, animals 1 Ksh per goat, 4 Ksh for cattle and 10 Ksh per camel.   In a day they get about 2500 sheep and goats, 400 cattle and 100 camels. This translates to 8600 ksh from animals and 6,000 Ksh from domestic users who consume about 40,000 liters daily.  Translating to an average income of 14,000 Ksh per day which previously they would spend 71% of it on fuel costs alone.

“This income is now saved in our association account and we use the money to improve the water point by doing fencing, making lockable gate, and building new watering troughs to separate people from animals,” Says Adan Yussuf. The WUA has also made contributions to community projects.  They have contributed 100,000 Ksh for construction of classrooms of a nearby school. “My biggest pride is that my people get all the water that they need easily and faster, “Says Adan. “We are very happy with the solar water pumping system and we thank the people who brought it to us (Oxfam, Wasda with funding from One Foundation.)  Adan further reports that WUA had so far managed to save 400,000 Kshs in its accounts from the daily collections at the water points and that on the day of my visit they were planning to deposit an additional 100,000 Kshs.

Adan looks back and shares that he initially had reservations on how the Solar technology would actually work. “At first we asked ourselves how can this sun that is burning us, evaporating water from our pans could at the same time really help us get water, we were very reluctant to accept the installation of the solar pumps because we didn’t know what would happen if the system failed. But now people are happy with the results and are confidently supporting the project” He adds with a smile.

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Written by Polycarp Otieno

Polycarp Otieno

Polycarp is communications officer for Oxfam's Kenya programme

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  1. Yes we are working closely with the County Government in Monitoring and Putting up a sustainable management system.

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