International Journal of Research and Scientific Innovation (IJRSI) | Volume VIII, Issue IV, April 2021 | ISSN 2321–2705
Household Coping Strategies For Unreliable Water Supplies In Nzoia River Basin, Kenya
Ernest Othieno Odwori
Department of Disaster Management and Sustainable Development, School of Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 190-50100, Kakamega, Kenya.
Nzoia River Basin lies entirely within Kenya along the border with Uganda in the Lake Victoria Basin, and has a population of about 3.7 million people that is rising rapidly with increased water demand. Majority of the people live in rural areas. Unreliable water supplies is a common feature in many developing countries and it threatens the health of millions of people around the world. This study examines the household coping strategies to unreliable water supplies and the factors influencing the choice of strategies in Nzoia River Basin. A cross-sectional research design was used in the study. Three counties were randomly selected from the basin for study with Busia representing the lower catchment, Kakamega middle catchment and Trans Nzoia upper catchment. The study used questionnaire surveys, in-depth expert interviews with selected stakeholders from the water sector, academia and scientists and field observations to examine the Household coping strategies for unreliable water supplies in the basin. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The study identified 18 household coping strategies to unreliable water supplies in the basin. Households use more than one strategy to cope with the problem of unreliable water supplies. There are some strategies which are adopted by large numbers of households whereas the others have only a few households using them. Water storage through storage tanks, roof tanks, drums, pots, buckets and bottles is the most preferred strategy by households followed by collecting water from alternative sources such as springs, rivers, dams and wells; using water sparingly/ limiting water use; treating water through boiling, filtration and chlorination; and drilling wells and boreholes. Strategies like improving water quality; enhancing pressure; rainwater harvesting in the rainy season; installing booster pumps, electrical and hand pumps; installing extra storage space; rescheduling major household activities to when water is available; buying water from neighbors, private tankers, donkey-cart owners, bottled water; moving to another house or area estate with water and community fundraising for construction of water supply are also important to the households in addressing problems of unreliable water supplies in the basin. Other strategies like recycling water; protesting and complaining to authorities; economizing on water use by reduced frequency of baths and economizing on water use by reduced number of meals in a day or altered diet are less important. The choice of household coping strategies used against unreliable water supplies was found to be influenced by socio-economic status: income, education; land tenure and lack of reliability. Unreliable/intermittent water supplies have imposed significant coping burdens to households in the basin. Assessing household coping strategies to unreliable water supplies and the factors influencing the choice of strategies in the basin will provide valuable insights for policy makers, water service providers and national and county governments while planning for improved water supply services. The findings of this study are important to the national and county governments within Nzoia River Basin as it provides a major shift from focusing on water supplies coverage (now widely used in the basin) to improvements in the quality of services anchored on water supplies reliability. This is the focus of the Sustainable development goals, target 6.1, which aims at achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by the year 2030.
Keywords: Nzoia River Basin, Household coping strategies, Unreliable water supplies, Factors influencing choice of strategies.
Domestic water supply that is sufficient, reliable, and of good quality is a basic requirement for all human beings. Unsafe domestic water supply is one of the key problems facing developing countries, threatening the health of millions of people around the world. It is projected that improvements in water supply, sanitation, and hygiene could prevent 10% of the overall global burden of disease. Inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene are responsible for 88 percent of diarrhea cases worldwide, resulting in 1.5 million preventable deaths per year, mostly among children. Water supply, sanitation