Water Rights are Women's Rights

Water rights are women’s rights. But for many women in Kishushe, Kenya, accessing clean and safe water means walking long distances and putting themselves at risk of violence. Flora January is working with a local ActionAid partner, Sauti ya Wanawake, to install a water tank in their community and increase access to safe drinking water.  


Flora is the secretary for the Sauti ya Wanawake women’s network in Kishushe. When COVID-19 hit her community, the network came together to assess the community’s needs.  

“It was a hard time for most farmers in Kishushe since we had made losses from last harvest, because of lack of access of markets as a result of the lock down. Even when it was very dry and rains were delayed, we managed to carry water on our backs,” she said. 

The women’s network worked together with ActionAid Kenya to install a water tank system to water their crops and build net houses (netting to protect from pests). Flora and the network identified a supplier and then gathered their community to clear land for the water tank and the net houses, digging trenches and excavating to make way for the masonry tank. 

Better access to water means women aren’t burdened with the task of walking long distances to find water for their homes, crops and hygiene. This means they have more time to take part in community activities, school and other activities.  

“I know from my experience that an empowered woman is happier and safer because they understand their rights and are not easy to violate. I am a volunteer and I love community development that is why I was so excited when Australian Aid came to support us build Kangemi Mlilo water project, because water is the biggest challenge we face in this community, Flora said. 

Flora threw herself into to the Kangemi Mlilo water project, saying that she visited the net houses every day and volunteered her time to water and take care of the crops. She also shares her horticulture knowledge with other women in the network. 

“I enjoy sharing my journey and knowledge with other women living in poverty and exclusion so that we can have a safer and better protected community.” 

The benefits of the project goes beyond water access. The Sauti ya Wanawake network is supporting 200 households in the community to build common interest groups around food security where they can learn from each other. They are also advocating for stronger protection for survivors of gender-based violence and providing an avenue for justice. 

Today when I see all these crops in here, I get very happy because I know, when school re-opens the children shall find an ongoing project and it shall be easier for them to adopt. I hold my fellow women’s’ hands so that we can advance together and have better lives.