Kenya, Eastern Province: Amina Abdalla, “You can’t maintain hygiene without water”

Amina Abdalla, a 45-year-old mother of seven, living in Marsabit District (pop. 121,000), Eastern Province, told IRIN/PlusNews about her daily struggle for water. She knows water is essential for hygiene, but there is not enough and it’s too expensive. She has to get up at 4 a.m. in the morning to queue for water.

“Some of us women come with small children to the water vendor and stay the whole day waiting for our turn. The children cry all day of hunger and the scorching sun, but getting water is the most important thing at that moment.

“At the vendor, it doesn’t matter what is the size of your family. We are just given five jerry cans of 20 litres each and they expect you to use it until after 10 days when you can return for more.

“When I finish my water – which I always do before the end of the 10 days because my family is large – we buy from people who hawk water. They sell one 20 litre container for 50 shillings [US$0.54], which is very expensive but there is little I can do. At times, you end up using money meant for food to buy water because even if you have food, you can’t cook it without water.

To save money, Amina Abdalla’s children can only bathe once every three days, and cannot wash clothes regularly.

“I have seven children but there would have been more; I lost three to cholera because the surroundings are dirty as a result of poor hygiene… You can’t maintain hygiene without water”.

There are boreholes in the forest but women risk be molested by men if they go there or are denied access by herders with their livestock.

“Here in Marsabit, we will have war one day and it will not be about animals or land… War will take place because people will be fighting for water.”

Source: IRIN, 24 Aug 2011

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