Pastoralist communities in Northern Kenya face increasing water security risks attributable to disruptions in their socio-ecological environments. Sedentarized pastoralists, women, and children are most vulnerable to spatial-temporal variations in water availability. This vulnerability is exacerbated by embedded power relations within existing socio-cultural and water governance systems. A preliminary study carried out in 2016 examined pastoralist women’s disempowerment in relation to the domestic water security constraints they face. The research found anecdotal evidence that women with diversified livelihoods and social capital are more resilient to water stress. The follow-on study was carried out in 2018 and aimed to provide empirical evidence on factors behind water security and to identify factors that enhance resilience for vulnerable pastoralist communities. The study covered both urban and rural communities in Samburu County and applied a mixed-methods research methodology incorporating quantitative and qualitative research approaches. The study was also used to test a scale for measuring household water insecurity which could potentially improve the methodology for assessing shock-related stress in these high-risk communities. Results show extreme levels of water insecurity, especially in rural areas, and indicate a close relationship between water security and social capital as indicated in the earlier study. Livelihood diversity does not appear to influence water security but households with higher numbers of livestock tend to be more water insecure than households with smaller herds. This is supported by reports from women that the additional burden of watering homestead-based livestock makes them more vulnerable.
This article presents the experience of using the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach in a recent programme in Somalia and explains some of the adaptations that were necessary to adjust to the specifics of a fragile and insecure context. The article goes on to explore the applicability of CLTS in fragile and insecure contexts more generally, using examples from South Sudan, Chad, and Afghanistan, and argues that in some ways it is an ideal approach for overcoming some of the challenges of working in these areas. During more than 20 years of civil conflict in Somalia, sanitation interventions were mostly limited to construction of latrines for affected populations or education on sanitation and hygiene (using the Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) approach) followed by fully subsidized latrine programmes for selected households. There is little evidence that these interventions achieved any real results, and recent surveys in Somalia show that sanitation access has actually decreased between 1995 and 2012. Open defecation levels are very high with correspondingly high levels of diarrhoea and frequent outbreaks of cholera. This is exacerbated by the high costs associated with construction of improved latrines due to logistical difficulties in transporting construction materials through insecure areas to remote communities, which discouraged many actors from carrying out comprehensive sanitation programmes in the past. With this background and encouraged by experiences in Afghanistan and other post-conflict contexts, UNICEF and partners decided to experiment with CLTS. These experiments came at a time when other water and sanitation actors were exploring the broader applicability of more demand-driven approaches in fragile and post-emergency situations.