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Rural water supplies problem in Kenya: A case study of Kipkelion division, Kericho district

Throughout the world, there is a conviction that the availability of sufficient quantities of clean, potable, water is one of the ways of improving man's health, hygiene and productivity. Although both the Government and Local Communities know that without adequate supplies of water it is difficult to develop an ~rea, and although efforts have been made to provide water to rural communities in Kenya, accessibility to potable water supplies is one of the problems experienced in Kipkelion Division of Kericho District. The inhabitants have to walk long distances to fetch water for domestic use and for livestock. The hauling of water from distant sources wastes a lot of man-hours and affects people's health and agricultural productivity. The current sources of water which include water holes, rivers and unprotected wells are exposed to pollution and thus likely to be infested with water-related diseases. Furthermore, many of the water sources are also unreliable often resulting in water shortages during dry season or during peak hours as in the case of water-holes. Although piped water is available to urban dwellers o~ Kipkelion town, the people experience water shortages due to the problems of design, maintenance and poor management. The above situation of water in the study area evidently calls for investigations, particularly on the ways and means of solving these problems. Such investigations were done through questionnaire administration and interviewing. The analysis of responses found that the majority of the people spent upto an average of 6.3 hours per day fetching water, that much energy is spent in transporting water to homesteads from far sources of water; that people are infected by water-related diseases because they obtain their water from sources which are exposed to pollution. It is also argued in this study that accessibility to good quality water, within easy reach can contribute to economic, social, health and political benefits to local communities in the study area. Field data shows that access to safe water would release a lot of man-hours currently devoted to fetching water for economic activities. It is also argued that the time released from the drudgery of hauling water from distant sources could be used for leisure and recreation activities. Finally, it is argued that availability of clean water supplies would reduce water-related diseases.