In 2009, Kenya East Territory, through Mseto WASH Project embarked on implementation of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes in rural parts of Eastern and Central Kenya. Since then, two project phases have so far been implemented. . The first phase was implemented in 40 rural primary schools enabling over 15,000 children access safe water, improved sanitation facilities as well as hygiene knowledge and skills for behavior change. The second phase was a five-year integrated WASH project locally referred to as the MSETO WASH Project. Key components of the second phase project besides WASH were nutrition, community health, agriculture, gender and human rights. The project was implemented in three counties of Kitui, Machakos and Makueni.

The gaps between the community absorption of the project and the gains of the project informed the need for the third phase of the project. Dynamics in interaction between a given community and the environment are complex and unpredictable. Climate change is one global phenomenon that cannot be underscored and neglected as it is a threat to the success of the project and its sustainability. The third phase therefore seeks to pursue a prepared mind-set, build capacity to adapt to climate change and the ability to advocate for equity in the distribution of resources and fair use of power. All these can be summed up as creating resilience in the community and hence the new project will be rebranded to MSETO Resilience-WASH and Food Security Project. The word ‘MSETO’ is a Swahili word used in our context to mean integrated. The term was coined to create a feeling of ownership of the project by the community, something they can closely associate with.

The project will adopt Salvation Army Corps and Schools as entry points which will bridge resilience in 24 new communities structured under three clusters namely Isiolo/Samburu, Machakos and Kitui clusters. The clusters will be named according to the counties in which they are implemented. There will also be strengthening of human rights approaches in the 40 existing communities through empowerment sessions with the right holders so that they are able to claim their rights as well as participate in their development at all stages including drafting of their respective County Development plans. The project plans to have a research and demonstration centre at The Salvation Army Thika farm that shall link the communities to research and industry. This centre if realized shall be used to incubate ideas through demonstrations and field trials that farmers can learn from. Overall, indirect beneficiaries are estimated to be approximately 90,000 people.

Some of the completed projects. Left: sand dam Right:Global Handwashing Day

The Salvation Army’s mission statement will be key in the project because of the integrated approach to work; body, mind and soul which is highly compatible with our faith and values. Reference is made in John 10:10 whereby resilience approach encompasses  of  relationship between God and His creation as quoted below:

“enabling people to enjoy life in all its fullness as they engage in transformative relationships with God, others and all creation” - The Salvation Army vision

All project activities; practical, social and spiritual, arise out of the basic conviction of the reality of the love of God and the desire to see all people brought into relationship with Him … Our doctrine reminds us that salvation is holistic: the work of the Holy Spirit touches all areas of our life and personality; all physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, our relationships with our families and with the world around us (The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine, 2010, pg 160).

In a nutshell, this project will not only seek to create endurance in the community, it will transcend beyond community preparedness and risk reduction in an effort to ensure that poor and marginalized people are empowered to comprehend their human rights by claiming it from the duty bearers for integral development. Therefore, key to this project is that effort is directed towards empowering communities to effectively deal with stresses and uncertainty and to support people to adapt to change which will alleviate them out of vulnerability and poverty such that whereas innovation is highly encouraged the local community knowledge is still considered.

For sustainability to be assured this project will strive to be inclusive as well as involve wider segment of the society at all stages including government at the county level. During decommissioning phase, the local communities shall be trained on how to maintain the WASH facilities and other initiatives so that they continue to operate well beyond the implementation period.

Your feedback is highly valued for the success of this project. We therefore urge you to let us know what you think should be done or added into the project to make it more successful. Write-ups on climate change or general environmental issues can be mailed to our office for consideration. Reach us through haggai.kiprop@kya.salvationarmy.org.

Let’s keep the conversation going!