How Taita Taveta County is using data to provide clean and safe water to residents

The technology will also help map 931 water points in the county, allowing for proper planning and management of the resource

Data is the new gold, so they say, but for Taita Taveta County, it is more than gold; it is the provider of clean water and a better life for the thousands of residents.

And here is how. Data is at the centre of a project the county is implementing to provide clean water to the over 177,000 residents.

Dubbed Taita Taveta Water Point Data and Information System, and implemented with support from USAID STAWI, the web-based platform launched about a week ago is helping the county improve water governance through data-driven decision making.

“This system is key to ensuring access to clean water for all residents of the county,” said Governor Andrew Mwadime.

Mwadime, who chairs the Council of Governors’ Committee for Water, Forestry, and Natural Resources Management, said the county is banking on the system to provide clean and safe water to the 52 per cent of the population that had no access to the commodity.

Before initiating the project, the county had mapped 300 water points. However, there was no much data on them.

“Now we have mapped out 931 water points and developed a digital map that shows location and type of water resource such as

borehole or spring and even whether they are protected or not,” said Albert Mwangeka, the principal communications officer, Office of the Governor.

The mapping exercise, according to Mwangeka, showed that 76 per cent of the water points across the county were in active use while 24 per cent were not.

To use the system, county government officials, MCAs and community leaders are allowed to create accounts, see the data that is collected or add any new information.

“This information may include low water levels, revenue from sales, any cases of vandalism or faulty pipes. The county govern­ment then gets an alert and sends someone to fix in real-time, ensuring that people continue getting water,” said Mwangeka, adding that the platform has become critical for decision-making on water management as it allows the county to know the functionality of the water resources.

Mwangeka said communities in the areas where they had water challenges had to travel long distances to get commodity, but now this is a thing of the past.

“Now that the county government gets information on the water resources daily, it plans on repairing the damaged points or even drilling new boreholes to ensure everyone has access. We also get to understand why these water points are not being used, which positively informs the management of others now and in future,” he said.

Mwadime said the county government would use the digital infrastructure to attract investors to complete stalled water projects and initiate new ones.

“This initiative is a collaborative effort between the county government and USAID STAWI. It is part of measures we are putting in place to streamline services,” he noted.

Historic marginalisation, population growth and environmental shocks have made manual water management difficult

Grantone Mwandawiro, the County Executive in-charge of Water, Sanitation, Environment, Climate Change, and Natural Resources, said the implementation of the digital system signifies a significant milestone in their efforts to enhance water governance.

“By harnessing the power of data, we can make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and ensure equitable access to clean water for all our residents,” he noted.

He added that the system will prevent the duplication of efforts by investors since all the water resources and challenges have been mapped.

Robert Kisyula, the Chief of Party USAID STAWI said the county now has a com­prehensive understanding of the names, projects, and statuses of water project, which is crucial for effective project management and decision-making.

Such data, Kisyula added, is a significant milestone to enhancing water governance.

“By harnessing the power of data, we can make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively and ensure equitable access to clean water for residents,” added Kisyula.

“We should acknowledge the importance of creating an asset management strategy for water resources as a key part of our collaborative efforts,” said Annie Feighery, the chief executive of MWater, the management information systems firm under the USAID STAWI Project.

The county has further secured Sh70 million financing agreement with WaterFund for the Kaloleni Water Supply Project, which would serve five other counties that have also signed agreements for various water projects.

The Kaloleni Water Supply Project would involve the building of 500m³ tank in Kasarani to increase storage capacity. The county plans to build new distribution lines that will take more water to Kaloleni, Mnaoni, Kalambe, Kavingoni, Mlegwa, Mkamenyi, Manoni, Gimba and Wongoni.

Willis Ombai, the chief executive of Water­Fund, termed the project a “climate-proofed investment”, aimed at strengthening areas’ resilience against drought, a consequence of climate change.

Share this post

Comment on post

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *