Aqua Clara Kenya began its operations in 2007 piloting some of ACI’s first field based water filters. Since then the program has grown and developed and at present, just over 7,000 water purifiers have been constructed, installed and sold by the local network of ACI Community Development Entrepreneurs (CDEs). ACI’s network of Community Health Promoters (CHPs) oversee the work of the CDEs and visit households and schools checking on the products and giving additional training on good Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practice. This program is becoming an exemplar for clean water initiatives. ACI’s continued growth in Kenya has in part been due to the growing recognition of its unique method that generates local economic activity, leaves a strong local knowledge base and a creates a permanent program driven by local motivation in the areas in which we work.
The ACI model is based on the premise that the projects should be locally managed and as locally driven as possible. We train local experts to build WASH products out of locally sourced materials and help to create locally sustainable small businesses. ACI believes that there should be a local expert available to perform any necessary maintenance and also serve as an easily accessible information resource for the local community. The CDEs are based at rural primary schools – the schools serve as demonstration sites for the ACI technology as well as providing secure storage for the raw materials necessary for construction. The school children and teachers benefit by using the ACI products, while also learning about good WASH practice through ACI school clubs. Local community members are able to visit the school, see the products that are available at first hand, potentially buy the product and also learn about good WASH practice.
ACI in Kenya has two main regions of operation – the rural areas around Kisii (Masaba South) and the rural areas around Eldoret (Uasin Gishu). The Kisii regional program was established in June 2009, and the Eldoret regional program was launched in April 2011.
Our main office complex in Kisii, Kenya houses ACI materials and supplies and serves as the principal training site for most programs. It is also recognized in the broader community as the source of demonstration projects showing new developments in a variety of areas, from clean water technologies to rain water harvesting to improved farming methods. Having an ACI facility clean water system here serves the dual purpose of providing ACI staff and guests with clean water and at the same time demonstrates the efficacy of such systems.
The District Governor and his senior staff visited the ACI offices once the system had been installed. The result of the visit was the creation of an MOU with the District government for ACI-Kenya to be recognized as the provider of choice for clean water technologies for District schools and other facilities. Follow-up on the MOU has been delayed by funding shortages at the national government level.