What you need to know:
- The document is a culmination of a two-year process, initiated and then facilitated by Dig Deep.
- The masterplan sets the strategic interventions in four phases running from 2022 to 2050.
Bomet has set the pace for the rest of the country on health matters by becoming the only county to launch a masterplan with clear timelines for achieving universal basic access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for its 1 million residents.
The masterplan sets out a roadmap for achieving safe sanitation, meaning the residents will have improved sanitation facility on their premises and a place to wash their hands with soap and water by 2030. It also aims to provide the residents access to clean and reliable source of water within 1km of their house by 2036.
Launched in a colourful ceremony at the county headquarters by Governor Prof Hillary Barchok on July 15, the document is a culmination of a two-year process, initiated and then facilitated by Dig Deep (Africa) in close collaboration with the county’s departments of Water, Public Health and Medical Services, as well as the Kenya Red Cross, AquaClara Kenya and World Vision Kenya.
“We started in 2020 by doing a survey in all five wards of Sotik sub-county and counted data on basic hygiene in all areas, including schools,” said Dig Deep (Africa) Head of Programmes Justus Tanui.
“We put people in four categories; men, women, youth and persons living with disabilities, conducted public participation after which we did data analysis,” he added.
The survey, which involved more than 13,000 households and is representative of 228,000 people in Sotik sub-county, confirmed that eight out of every 10 people in Bomet lack access to clean water, safe toilets and good hygiene, a worrying statistic that requires urgent intervention.
Dig Deep (Africa), an organisation that focuses on water, sanitation and hygiene, has directly reached over 200,000 people in Kenya with clean water, safe toilets and good hygiene since 2007 and had already achieved a lot in Bomet even before the masterplan was mooted.
In partnership with Sotik-CDF, Dig Deep has supported over 50 schools to get clean water and safe sanitation, enabling girls to stay in school and reducing absenteeism due to the stigma associated with monthly periods.
They also worked with the county government to ensure Ndanai-Abosi ward achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, meaning 4,165 households in the 101 villages had access to a toilet and handwashing facility.
But with the worrying statistic in the county requiring a lot of resources, an elaborate plan that sets out a long-term strategy was needed and that is when Justus and his team, that also includes Programmes Officer Joe Hook and Project Officers Nelly Chepkorir and Field Officer Nicky Ronoh, together with Dr Joseph Sitonik, Chief Executive Commissioner for Medical Services and Public Health and his Water and Sanitation counterpart Eng Peter Tonui combined their efforts to formalise and burn the midnight oil in an effort to come up with the masterplan.
The masterplan sets the strategic interventions in four phases running from 2022 to 2050 at a cost of $398 million (Sh47 billion) with the first one being from 2023-2027.
“We have spent a lot to treat diseases but if we can invest in preventing the diseases, it will save us a lot of money and improve our health,” said Barchok after signing an MoU between the County Government of Bomet and Dig Deep.
“We will follow and honour this MoU and for easy implementation, we must integrate this document in the County Integrated Development Plan and I am sure in five years’ time, we will not underperform,” he added.
Dig Deep global CEO, Ben Skelton, urged the county government to take ownership of the masterplan if it has to be implemented fully.
“I first visited Bomet 10 years ago and I have seen partnerships flourish. I have seen those projects help students stay in school and parents improve their families and livelihoods,” Skelton said.
“The publication of this Masterplan means people of Bomet will plan effectively, and mobilise more resources for WASH activities in their county. I thank the county government for taking ownership of this project and this gives me confidence that it will be a success,” he went on.
Bomet Deputy Governor Shadrack Rotich said he is keen to ensure full implementation of the masterplan as this will set them apart from the rest as the only county to have complied with the Sustainable Development Goal No 6, ‘ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.’
“If we sign an MoU like this, it binds the county government to provide funds and staff to implement. Secondly, this document will be tabled before the County Assembly to oversight its implementation,” Rotich said.
Tonui and Sitonik, whose dockets will be primarily tasked with seeing the project to fruition, are thrilled to see the plan finally ready.
“In this masterplan, we have taken care of issues that can arise due to climate change. We have also incorporated menstrual hygiene and included how the boys can talk about it to destigmatise the issue. If we improve sanitation and hygiene by 2030, we will increase life expectancy in Bomet from 63 to 70,” said Tonui.
“We want to move away from donor-dependance to partnerships which shows the commitment of the county government. This makes ownership of the project easy and that is the route we have embraced going forward. Our governor has committed to account for each coin because we know people denied themselves something somewhere to contribute to this programme,” Sitonik said.
County WASH coordinator Gladys Chelagat and Sotik Sub-County Public Health Officer Lucina Bett shared the same message.
“Dig Deep have been helping a lot in our villages but we still have gaps and that is why we are calling on others to come on board,” she said.
As the county government looks forward to implementing the masterplan, Dig Deep continues to implement immediate, practical solutions to change lives in Bomet and besides their work in Ndanai-Abosi, they also launched a water project in Gorgor on World Water Day which now sees over 200 households access clean and safe water after years of struggle.
“Kipsonoi ward, which has 120 villages, is now our focus as we want to ensure it is declared Open Defecation Free,” said Dig Deep (Africa) Head of Programmes, Tanui.
Dig Deep has also founded the county’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) Hub to drive sustainable change across the county.
Bomet’s five constituencies, Bomet Central, Bomet East, Chepalungu, Sotik and Konoin, have 25 wards.