JIP-YEP Exchange visit in Kenya

YEP Programmes piloted a learning exchange visit between young employees of a Dutch Regional Water Authority from Waterschap Rivierenland ("JIPpers"), and Young Experts working abroad. In order to share experiences about drinking water challenges, JIP sent Malou Heidekamp to Kenya, to meet Young Expert Esmee Mulder (batch 22), who works for MetaMeta in Kenya. Esmee shares her experiences with Malou in the blog below:

"End of March 2023, Malou Heidekamp arrived in Kenya in the midst of the Maandamano (anti-government protests) in Nairobi as part of a JIP exchange with YEP Programmes. Little did we know that this was only the start of a crazy week, full of adventures and shared learnings, including: waiting in the middle of a desert for 3 hours for a seasonal river to subside, which suddenly blocked the road, sitting in a small house made of palm leaves with the council of elders of the smallest ethnic group in Kenya to discuss ways forward for access to clean drinking water, and dancing in a make-shift open-air car disco to Samburu music!"

Esmee (YEP) and John (the driver) checking out the seasonal river which suddelny blocked the road

"Malou and I were teamed up by the Dutch Regional Water Authority (Waterschap) Rivierenland and the YEP Programme Bureau to pilot an exchange visit between the two organisations. For one week, Malou would join me to learn about my work as a Young Water Expert at MetaMeta in Kenya. 'It would be nice if you can take her to the field' the organisers shared. Well... that is exactly what we did. After a short introduction to Nairobi and a visit to the MetMeta office to meet my colleagues, we jumped into a sturdy 4x4 Land Cruiser to travel up north to the remote dry lands of Marsabit county. The visit was part of the formulation phase of a drinking water programme on the shore of Lake Turkana."

Malou (JIP) on the boat with Jeremiah (host in Layeni) crossing Lake Turkana between Komote and Layeni village after a discussion with community members on their issues regarding access to clean drinking water

"We visited the Water Resource Authority, several local government officials, and residents of the El Molo villages of Layeni and Komote. Together with these residents, we are co-designing the programme and are identifying the lessons learnt of past failed water projects. Additionally, we jointly explored the interconnected challenges which the communities are facing regarding drinking water access, and what would be the most sustainable way forward. Some of the key findings are shared in this blog.

Not only did Malou and I learn an incredible amount from the community members and the other stakeholders, we also formed a great team in brainstorming on the way forward. This resulted in coming up with a short-term solution (trucking water from a relatively nearby source), but also identifying partnerships and plans for the longer-term holistic way forward. Therefore, though it started with a short exchange of one week, we are already building a path to continue our journey together in the future!"

Layeni village where the residents often have no other option then to drink straight from Lake Turkana leading to many health issues

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