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Delivering Clean Water to Rural Communities: the Case of Chlorine in Kenya

As the Ideo.org team saw in Tanzania, the lack of clean drinking water is a significant challenge for rural communities. In 2014, One Acre Fund delivered enough chlorine to provide safe drinking water for one year to over 115,000 households across East Africa (full disclosure: I am a current employee of One Acre Fund). One Acre Fund is a social enterprise that provides smallholder farmers with agricultural inputs, training services and microfinance loans. Having established an extensive rural distribution network, the organization continues to explore complementary products and services to meet the needs of its clients, including safe drinking water solutions like chlorine.

Photo of Chris Pozzi
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This was originally published as a post on One Acre Fund's blog and is available here.

It's a common sight early in the morning in western Kenya: women and children walking alongside the road with empty, yellow containers in their hands. If they are lucky, they will only have to walk a kilometer or two to the nearest village well, where they will lower the containers into the ground to scoop up water they will then carry home.

Yet more often than not, farmers walk long distances to reach the nearest water point—especially during the dry season—with little or no promise that the water will be clean and safe to drink. Coming directly from the ground, the water can be contaminated, leading to diarrhea, typhoid, or cholera. All this has a profound impact on their ability to farm and feed their families.

When farm families fall sick, they are not able to tend to their crops. They end up spending the little money they have saved for food and school fees on medical bills and pharmacy prescriptions. Or in some cases, funeral fees. Diarrhea is the number one killer of children worldwide.

This year, One Acre Fund delivered chlorine to over 115,000 households across East Africa as part of our loan package. That means over 500,000 women, men, and children will have treated water that is safe to drink. We estimate our chlorine distribution will prevent 75,000 cases of diarrhea among children under the age of five, saving lives and freeing up money for food and school fees.

Farming is the dominant activity of the world’s poor. One Acre Fund’s goal is to make this activity significantly more productive so that farmers can grow their way out of hunger and poverty. But smallholder farmers face extraordinary external risks every day that can make this impossible to achieve. Contaminated drinking water is one of these risks and cannot be overlooked. Safe drinking water means healthier, happier, and more productive farm families—both on their shambas and off.

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Photo of Dylan Mckimm

Hi Chris! Love what you guys are doing! I'm working as a team with a fellow Industrial Designer on improving the same water issues that African countries are currently facing.

We would love if you guys could take the time to see what we're doing right now & give us feedback. With you're experience on the issue, we think your input would really help us develop a product that could assist in Third World development.

https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/ideas/3-concepts-that-help-lighten-the-burden-of-water-collection-for-women-in-the-developing-world
Thanks!

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