Wasini Island residents grapple with water shortage after rain failure

Mr Mohammed Kassim, a fisherman and resident of Wasini Island in Kwale County carries jerrycans to a boat to Shimoni.  The father of five said he has to carry at least 80 litres of water from Shimoni to cater for his family's need.


Photo credit: Siago Cece I Nation Media Group

At least 3,000 residents of Wasini Island in Kwale County are grappling with water shortages after rains failed.

The island has only one main tank for harvesting rainwater for use by residents as they cannot dig boreholes for fear of getting underground salty water.

The island lies three kilometres off the coast of the Indian Ocean. It lacks a natural source of freshwater, forcing locals to depend on rain.

Sometimes the county government supplies water to the island using a boat, but residents are now dissatisfied with how officials have dealt with the issue.

“Every time there is drought, this is the norm. The other day, a water bowser that had developed mechanical problems sailed back to Shimoni from Mombasa. The same bowser is supposed to supply two villages here, which is not enough,” said Mr Mohammed Kassim.
Mr Kassim, a father of five, said he has to carry at least four jerrycans every morning and cross to Shimoni to get clean water.

The water is then transported by boat to his house on the island.

He explained that the county government bowser only supplies to the two villages at least once a week, and many residents, especially the elderly, miss out on the water.

For Ms Rose Mukilia, her family depends on an underground water tank that harvests water through roof gutters.

Because of the drought, the tank is now empty, forcing her to pay someone to fetch water from Shimoni.

At the Shimoni jetty, tens of full jerrycans are lined up waiting for their owners to get boats and transport them back to the island.

“It is very costly to both buy the water and transport it on a boat across the ocean. We would like to be supplied with water. I also want government officials not just to campaign but visit Wasini to see how we are suffering without water,” said Ms Mukilia.

Various parts of Kwale County are facing water shortages despite the county and national government investing billions of shillings in mega-dam projects.

They include the Mwache and Makamini dams whose construction is yet to be completed.

Officials are also puzzled on how the water will be piped across the ocean to Wasini, one of the farthest places in the county, bordering Tanzania.


Water jerrycans lined up at the Shimoni Jetty where they are transported by boats across the Indian Ocean to Wasini Island in Kwale County. At least 3,000 residents of Wasini Island in Kwale County are grappling with water shortages after rains failed.

Photo credit: Siago Cece I Nation Media Group

Other areas affected by drought in Kwale County are Lungalunga and Kinangho where water pans have dried up, forcing residents to walk long distances to get the commodity.

The Kenya Red Cross said recently that the drought had killed at least 500 animals while 90 per cent of water pans had run dry in the county.

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