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September 21, 2021
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Kenya: Politics of Water – Garissa County Residents Lack Water As Leaders Trade Blame

On a hot sunny day, Isnino Ibrahim walks barefoot in the sandy, red soils carrying a container tied to her head.

Alongside her are others pushing similar containers with their legs, while others are using donkeys for transport.

They are all going to search for water in the next village.

Ms Ibrahim is among Garissa residents who walk long distances in search of water as elected leaders continue to point fingers at each other.

For the last four years, residents have been complaining about dry taps.

“The last time I received water from my tap was six months ago. We used to have it round the clock, but now it has gone dry,” said Ms Ibrahim, a resident of Bula Madina.

She said she is still paying Sh1,700 every month for water services she is no longer receiving.

Ahmed Khadar, another resident, expressed his anger, saying leaders had done nothing to end the water crisis in the region.

“In Bula Adan, we have to be alert all the time. I receive water from the tap once a week. Mothers and children are forced to walk long distances in search for this basic need,” Mr Khadar said.

The Garissa town areas of Bula Iftan, Bula Reeg, Bula Punda and Bula Madina are among those facing a biting shortage.

Residents said politicians have turned the water problem into a campaigning tool.

“I have no other choice. We have complained but nothing is being done. We have to go out and search for water,” says Dekow Ali, a resident of Mogodashe, Lagdera sub-county.

Mogodashe is one of the most affected areas. Last month, the area’s county assembly representative, Ali Gure urged the county and national governments to intervene, complaining that schools and hospitals could shut down due to lack of water.

“We have been relying on water trucks supplying water to our residents but it is not enough for thousands of them who are in dire need. We urge the government and well-wishers to come through and help in this matter,” he said.

Last August, Garissa Governor Ali Korane initiated the drilling of three boreholes in Iftin ward that were expected to end the water shortage in seven areas.

In April this year, another borehole was commissioned in Nuno Centre, Sankuri ward.

At the event, county water executive Abdi Omar accused the water users committee of mismanaging the boreholes.

“The drilling of this borehole was as a result of a breakdown of another in this area. The earlier borehole equipment suffered irreparable damage, triggering water a shortage and forcing the government to drill a new one,” he said.

According to county residents, the equipment at the boreholes has stopped working.

“When the former governor was being elected he said he would deal with the water issue, but nothing was done. When Governor Korane was campaigning in 2017, he said the same thing, but our leaders have started using the water problem as a campaign tool to have seats in the government,” said Abdiweli Hussein.

In the 2017 campaigns, Garissa Township MP Aden Duale used the water shortages to push for the ouster of the governor at the time, Nathif Jama.

Mr Duale is using the same tactic this election cycle. He has recently began lashing out at Governor Korane, saying he has failed to solve the water problem as his term comes to an end.

But now the hopes of residents have been crushed as the boreholes have started drying up.

“We thought the drilling of boreholes was the end of our water crisis. But the boreholes have no difference now. We do not even recognise if they are available or not,” Mr Ali said.

The water problem has now become an issue in mosques.

“We have to store water so that people do not lack the basic need, especially with the sun being hot nowadays,” says Mohammed Hassan, a cleric.

The water problem has landed Governor Korane in court over graft allegations. He is accused of embezzling Sh233 million from the World Bank meant for the Kenya Urban Support Programme.

The case is making its way

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