Arnold Kipchirchir completed his Community Integrity Building training with National Taxpayers Association in August 2015 and was allocated a water project in Matema, Nandi province. Matema is a prime example of just how drastically projects can stall and how long delays can go unresolved without dedicated resource or individuals working to bring the various stakeholders together and keep the momentum of the project going.
There was an acute need for a water tank for the village of Matema, as the existing well was over two kilometres away and women would need to carry jerrycans back uphill to their homes several times a day. In January 2008, it was decided that a water tank that pumped water uphill and stored it closer to the villagers’ homes would save time and energy, reduce risk to local women, and liberate families who were getting by with unnecessarily scarce water supplies at home.
“We agreed on a contractor and we received a quote for the work and the Bill of Quantities. Moses Agui was the contractor, and Lake Victoria Water was the company – they quoted 600,000 Kenyan Shillings to construct the tank”. (Julius Nyanke, Project Management Committee chairman).
Waiting for plumbing to commence, the Project Management Committee (PMC) found that communication with the local government was deteriorating. They received less and less by way of updates or explanation. After the General Elections in 2013, the Town Council handed the project over to the County Government. The pipes have been lying in storage since they were delivered in 2012.
When community monitor Arnold first visited Matema, he interviewed the PMC members, the local Chief and a number of would-be beneficiaries from the surrounding area. Once he understood each stage of the process to date, he had a much better understanding of the heritage of the project and the areas that needed focused attention if the project was to get underway again. Once he had gathered his evidence base and understood the intricacies of the project’s status, he could effectively represent the project and the community to the County Government in a bid to push things forward.
Arnold identified and built up contact with Mr Julius Rutto, the County Representative at the County Government. He made calls and arranged meetings with Mr Rutto to get to the bottom of the problems, throughout September 2015. He uncovered that there had been an issue internally at the County Government with the proposed water source at the tea plantation, which was why they had not started laying the pipes. Arnold also learned that Parliament had delayed the release of funds to the County Government itself, another contributing factor to the delays.
Identifying these internal problems at the County Government level has led to a collaborative working relationship between Arnold and the County Representative, based on an awareness of the challenges the County Government themselves were facing. This kind of constructive engagement has opened channels of communication and the County Government representatives feel that they have a trusted and empathetic representative on the project.
Being able to communicate directly with the County Government and advocate for progress of particular projects is vital to avoid long delays and navigate changes of priority internally.
“Now we feel we have a spokesperson. The people here must have a place where they can directly fetch their water, this project is very important to us. Arnold has learned about our needs and we can see that NTA will be speaking up for us. That is what it takes.” (Japhette Odira, PMC member).
Many thanks to Joy from Integrity Action for her contribution. Find more about Integrity Action be sure to visit their website, or follow them on Twitter at @Act4Integrity. Follow Joy at @Integrity_Joy