Women in Assa village of Garsen constituency have been forced to dig shallow wells to quench their thirst for water as the ongoing drought continues to bite.
Oblivious of the imminent danger since the wells are more than ten feet deep, a ladder is used by the women to get in and out of the shallow wells. The women usually use two lessos tied together to haul up the water in ten-litres jerry cans ready for domestic use.
The village has two shallow wells used by the community and teachers deployed to the area. A water pan which was put up by the National Irrigation Authority has dried up.
“We are enduring a lot of challenges in pursuit of water. This is our daily routine, after a while the walls of the waterholes collapse and the wells are filled with sand, we are endangering our lives,’’ said Halima Ismail.
She added that ‘in a day we get a 20-litre container of water. Children are starving. They spend most of the time sleeping to minimize the pangs of hunger’’.
Teachers who spoke on condition of anonymity said water is their major challenge and the community shallow wells are deep and dangerous.
“Teachers can spend a whole day in the wells only to return with 5 litres of water. The water is scarce and not clean; the MP’s office brought water to school last month, which is almost finished. The law prohibits us from sending pupils to fetch water,’’ a teacher at Assa Primary School said.
Assa primary school had eight candidates who sat for KCPE last year. The school had a boarding section for girls but owing to water scarcity, it was closed.
“The government keeps pestering us to take our children to school, if we do not have water, how will we be able to do so?’’ posed Baloni Barisa Dhara who blamed politicians for not heeding their call to help alleviate the water problem and are only concerned with personal interests.
“If the politicians care for our lives, this is the time and not during the electioneering period. We will not dance to their tunes,’’ Baloni Dhara said and added that the county government has water bowser trucks but residents are told they do not have fuel.
The residents blamed some drivers of water bowsers who are tasked to supply water by selling the scarce commodity to camel owners before it reaches their village.
Some families from the villages have migrated with their livestock in search of water and pasture. The National Drought Management Authority in its long rains assessment report has said more than 63,000 face starvation in Tana River County.
Garsen MP Ali Wario Guyo took a swipe at Governor Dhadho Godhana’s administration for failure to deploy a water rig to drill boreholes in Assa village. The water rig was purchased in 2019 at a cost of Sh70 million.
“The county government of Tana River bought a water rig which they placed in a museum gathering dust in Hola, instead of bringing it to be of service for the villagers who are endangering their lives in search of water,” Guyo said.
The MP also appealed to the national government to declare the drought a national disaster since residents of Assa and Kone are now forced to enter the Tsavo East national park to look for water and pasture for their livestock thus increasing human-wildlife conflicts.