Nairobi — The Safaricom M-PESA Foundation in partnership with the Kenya Red Cross Society on Friday initiated a long term water project in Vigurungani, Kwale County to address issues of water supply, food security and sanitation.
The project which will be implemented over a period of 18 months is expected to benefit at least 2,500 people directly and 10,000 others indirectly and further give room for creation of agriculture cooperatives and linkages to markets.
Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony, M-PESA Foundation Executive Director Les Baillie said the project aims to reduce the dependency of the community on chronic relief feeding and instead empower them produce their own food and earn income.
"This project will increase food security through increased access to safe water, agriculture support, health and nutrition awareness," Baillie said.
Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet said the climatic conditions in the area lead to several communities being food insecure as agriculture cannot be practiced to the desired level.
"Low erratic precipitation coupled with poor water supply infrastructure to support irrigation interventions contribute heavily to this predicament," Gullet said.
The Sh207 million project is also expected to help reduce diseases like diarrhoea, malaria and malnutrition in the area which are attributed to poor access to safe drinking water, low levels of food production and health education.
The initiative includes rehabilitation and improvement of Nyalani Dam to attain a water storage capacity of approximately 500million litres of water for irrigation, domestic and livestock usage.
It will also lay irrigation infrastructure to open up approximately 105 acres of farming under drip irrigation, agriculture extension services for the farmers to enhance farming knowledge and skills, health and hygiene education and establishment of capacity building of various community group structures.
"It is clear that more holistic interventions are required to be carried out in order to break the cycle of vulnerability these communities face, failure to do so would mean a continuation of the status quo and a constant degradation of the lifestyle of these communities," he added.
Kwale County Governor Salim Mvurya assured that the money invested in the project will be spent wisely for the benefit of the community.
"We are thankful to the M-PESA Foundation and Kenya Red Cross for their support. The County government will give the additional Sh25million required to have the water capacity go up to one million litres."
"We promise to use the funds to benefit the whole community and better the livelihoods of all," he said.