Long-distance treks in search of water every dawn are still very vivid in the minds of villagers in Chala and Mahoo in Taveta, Taita Taveta County.
Over the past five decades, locals had to travel eight kilometres every day in search of the commodity, said Catherine Simon.
“By 6am every morning, we were already on the road to the Kasokoni river to fetch water,” she narrated.
With a 20-litre container of water balanced on her back, she said, she would hurriedly go back home to tend to her farm.
Other residents had to buy water from boda boda vendors, whose supply was expensive and irregular.
Residents used to spend most of their day looking for water for drinking, cooking, washing clothes and their livestock.
Ms Simon said it was hard balancing between working in their fields and doing their income-generating activities.
Sometimes she would borrow her neighbour's donkey to lessen the burden of carrying the water on her back.
"I used to get a headache every day because of the sun and from carrying the water on my back," she said.
But the commissioning of a Sh61 million water project in the area has offered relief for over 17,000 residents.
The Nakruto-Di-Moody water project, funded by the Red Cross Society and the Taita Taveta County government, involves a solar-powered community borehole, an elevated steel tank and seven water kiosks.
The borehole will pump over 30,000 litres of water per hour to a 200,000-litre tank to supply to more than seven points in Kasokoni Kati, Mrimba, Kitondoni, Kwa- Dominic, Kasarani and others.
"Lack of water was our biggest problem. We are now happy that we will be able to focus on income-earning activities instead of worrying about where to get water," said Tabitha Mutua.
More than 2,880 households had lived with the problem since independence, she said, and the burden was always on women, girls and children.
The villages are among areas in the county that have been flagged by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) as the most affected by the ongoing drought.
The drought, characterised by high temperatures and poor rainfall, has trapped locals and many are staring at starvation.
Most of the households are classified as very poor. However, now that water will be provided, residents say they will embark on farming to improve food security for their families.
The irony is that the area hosts Lake Chala, a trans-border crater lake that sits in Kasokoni village.
"Access to water was a major issue here because we did not know how to tap the water from the lake. Fetching water was a whole day's affair," said Harrison Mulwa.
He blamed their misfortune on politicians, who he said made false promises that they would deal with the water crisis.
"Governments have come and gone but our plight remained. Politicians made it their campaign agenda and ran away after we voted for them," he said.
The villagers are now optimistic they will have better sanitation and save time, which they will use to engage in other valuable activities.
"We will now be able to focus on our children and household chores and concentrate on our farms. We have a lot of land, but we had no water to cultivate it. The fields are dry and barren, but our lives will change now," Mr Mulwa added.
Water executive Esther Mwanyumba said the department will eliminate water-related diseases and elevate the nutrition and livelihoods of the people.
"Women and children are the greatest beneficiaries because they were the most affected. It will also open up other developments in the area," she said.
She noted that the project will also improve food security in areas where irrigation systems have also been established.
"The water shortage made it impossible for the villagers to productively use their land but now they will improve their nutrition and boost their livelihoods," she said.
The county government has spent millions of shillings to ensure more residents have clean drinking water.
Ms Mwanyumba said officials will ensure there is enough water across the region for domestic, farming and livestock use.
She said this will end politicking on water during campaigns.
"In many of the areas, residents had never seen piped water since independence but recently the county government provided them with flowing water in their homesteads," she said.
Officials have lined up other water projects in Mwatate, Voi, Wundanyi and Taveta sub-counties.
''The county government wants to ensure, come next year, all the projects we have started are completed,'' she said.