Who are Water Women; Rainwater Harvesting?

Why are we doing this?

Celebration as the big tank has been moved across the garden

Joy and the large Rainwater Harvesting collection tank

How have we achieved it and what are the future plans?

Water Women has grown from an idea in 2011 into real results in the form of a system that can gather and store 40000 litres of harvested rainwater and be easily maintained and developed in Kithoka, Meru.

Karambu and Julie

Dr K and Julie Gunn, the inspiration for these projects

In 2011 a groundbreaking event; the Women’s Listening Event brought together women from around the world in Mombasa. Two of those women, Julie Gunn (Europe), who conceived WLE and Dr Karambu Ringera – Dr K (Kenya), who attended it, met and discussed female role models and the need for water sustainability. Julie knew Hattie Hasan ‘Master’ Plumber and innovative business leader, whose work includes enabling women to train and qualify as plumbers in UK and thereby become available as powerful female role models.

In 2006 Hattie had vowed to change the way water is managed and through that have a positive impact on women’s lives. Here was a route to do that.

In October 2015, Hattie and real-time social media specialist Mica May arrived at KACH/IPI to work in collaboration with members of the community there and positively impact their water sustainability.

KACH/IPI, in Meru county is the brainchild of Dr K. An innovative Community Home, it keeps children within their local community and near to extended family members when they are unable to live with their birth parents. It’s strong connections with the local community include a technical college and business support, empowering local women to become financially independent; strengthening the whole community.

The children watch as Hattie makes a washer out of a frisbee

The children watch as Hattie makes a washer out of a frisbee

Before we arrived the water supply at KACH/IPI was bought water from Mewas (treated water) and pumped river water, both of which have to be paid for. These are supplemented by water pumped from a bore hole at it’s farm – Tiriji. Water therefore represents a considerable expense and, other than that pumped from the bore hole (suitable only for watering crops), is not reliable 100% of the time.

Hattie worked in partnership with Joy Karambu, a 23 year old Business Student to create and build a rainwater harvesting system and to transform perceptions of women’s capabilities.

Over three weeks Hattie designed and built the rainwater harvesting system, passing her knowledge to Joy so that she in turn is able to teach others using the easy to follow manual Hattie created during the project.

The entire process is detailed in blogs 3-11 here https://stopcocks.uk/clean-water/ these were written as a diary as we worked.

Although the trip was timed to fit with the Rainy Season, this arrived late. It meant that it was easy for us to get around without mud or flood so Hattie and Joy achieved all their targets. However, it wasn’t until after we returned home to UK that the rains came and Joy was able to send photos of the system up and running.

A full Rainwater Harvesting tank at KACH/IPI. Kenya

A full Rainwater Harvesting tank at KACH/IPI

Harvested rain; ready for use at KACH, Kenya

Rain; ready for use

What’s next for Water Women; Rainwater Harvesting?

The next step is to consolidate our work at KACH/IPI with a return trip to evaluate it’s effectiveness and build on our success.

For us, building on our success means that we want to work with other women, enlarging the Water Women workforce and draw in more projects who want to increase their water sustainability.

One of the plans that has grown out of Joy’s conversations with her mum and other local women, and an idea of Dr K’s is to create simple kits and training so that women can build a simple rainwater harvesting system for their own homes. This could make a significant difference to their lives by reducing water costs during the rainy season and providing them with stored water for their gardens to use at other times.

We intend to return to Kenya soon, work with more projects and train more women in simple rainwater harvesting techniques. To be kept up to date on developments please ‘like’ our page on Facebook

All over Kenya people are buying water, much of which has to be boiled to make it fit for drinking. The only alternative is drilling boreholes, which is very expensive and not feasible in many places. Collecting rainwater, although it doesn’t provide a year round solution does provide one that is financially in reach of many more communities, people can even build small collection points for their own homes using our kits and training materials (contact us if you’d like to donate towards these life enhancing kits).

Water Women intends to become the organisation to come to for cheap, sustainable water technologies. We will primarily teach women how to gather and control their own water supplies for minimal outlay and to create systems for charitable and community projects. If you want to get involved in this, email us at waterwomen@stopcocks.uk.

Our next trip will include a stay in Nairobi. We intend to meet with organisations who can help make water sustainability financially sustainable. If you are a Kenyan business who’d like to a) increase your own water sustainability or b) support community projects to create their own rainwater harvesting systems; please contact us at waterwomen@stopcocks.uk