Clean water gives local café a lifeline

A solar water project, supported by the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development, recently saw the installation of six solar powered water desalination units

Kitui county in Kenya is an area very vulnerable to the ongoing effects of the global climate crisis. In Kitui County, many wells that are used to provide drinking water now contain salts and fluoride, rendering the water unsafe for direct consumption and having a detrimental effect on the health of the community. 

The Solar Spring Water Project is one of six pilot projects implemented in partnership with the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD), aiming to provide the community with fresh and clean water.

Alice Musembi - A local café owner

Alice Musembi owns a local grocery shop and café at Mutuni village in Kitui County, an arid region in Kenya where fresh drinking water is scarce, and water drawn from existing boreholes in the county is saline and impure.

Send someone to get water four kilometres away at the cost of Ks. 25 for a 20-litre jerrycan, and even then, it was not clean water," she says, adding that often the brokers she paid to collect water would not keep to time, meaning school children would receive their lunch late. 'I was not sure where they got the water from, so I was always unsettled about the quality of the water.'

Alice had to boil the water before use, which used extra fuel and left scum. Previously, she made tea for customers, using two packets of milk per day – but she worried about mixing the milk with the tea and used to cross her fingers that the tea would not turn to 'black muck' after a while. Alice also says she could not cook food properly – it would take a long time, and grains and cereals would not cook completely through.

Alice drawing water

Alice preparing lunch for customers

With access to purified and clean water, which is safe to drink and cook, Alice has increased her tea sales to six packets per day and sells more Chapati and Mandazis. She has been able to enjoy a profit from her increased sales and feels assured knowing she is giving her customers clean water.

'Now we have fresh water, which I offer my customers for drinking, and they enjoy the food because when I make cereals, they are now cooked properly,' she says.

'Business has now taken a turn for the better,' says Alice. 'With this water tank, I am assured of clean water for my customers, and I am happy to serve the children's lunch on time.'