Project Maji has joined hands with South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU). Through this partnership, we are jointly creating a research framework that will support accelerated access to safe water for rural communities and growth centres in Kenya. The goal is to provide relevant applied-research opportunities for SEKU students and strengthen their academic research expertise. The collaboration successfully kicked off with a series of five guest lectures conducted by Project Maji’s Director Partnerships & attended by 15 Bachelors & Masters Students enrolled in WASH, development and other relevant disciplines.
Knowledge Partnership for Efficient Service Delivery
The partnership aims to create wins for all: positively impacting faculty members, the students, and the communities targeted by the collaborating parties. And this is highly necessary, because when it comes to rural water solutions, there truly is no one-size-fits-all. Providing sustainable water access requires service providers to take into account the local hydro-geological and socio-economic context and deliver a solution that ticks all the boxes. This partnership helps us do just that. It intends to generate research outcomes that provide robust, data-driven insights to inform the provision of fit-for-purpose highly efficient water solutions in rural Kenya. It supports efficient decision-making, provides policy suggestions, strengthens skills and capacity of students and staff, and improves the general standard of living for communities the two organizations are working with.
Scope of the partnership
Project Maji and the University leverage each other’s strengths to support SDG 6.1 – accelerated and universal access to safe water. As a service provider with a growing network of safe water access points across SSA, Project Maji has identified relevant areas for research related to rural water poverty in Kenya for SEKU students, primarily focusing on social impact studies, sustainable development, rural water policy development, water resource management and technical engineering. The PM team liaises with SEKU staff to map the research scope and define student capacity required per project. SEKU staff recruits qualified students whose profiles match the research requirements and personal interest and make introductions to PM. To facilitate field research, PM will leverage its good rapport in beneficiary communities to introduce students to community leadership and ease the researcher’s penetration within the community.
Guest lectures on Rural water challenges
Project Maji’s Director Partnerships, Wieke De Vries, has recently concluded a series of five lectures introducing the pool of potential researchers to learn about rural water management, Project Maji’s operations model, water provision challenges in Kenya. The last two lectures focused on digital data collection via the purpose-built WASH data collection platform mWater. The goal of these lectures was to prepare SEKU researchers to go in the field and conduct pre-and-post impact surveys in selected Maji communities. The first cohort has already completed baseline surveys in Kithyoko community, Kenya. Below is a snapshot from the field:
Reflecting on the experience, Joseph Muchiri, from the baseline research cohort commented:
“It was an enriching experience. The communities we visited were quite welcoming, but also anxious to know what was going to happen thereafter as they had been promised too much by various organisations but none of them followed through. Having said that, the overall experience of interacting with the communities was great”
Finally, the MOU between both partners is in place for a total of five years. During this period, we anticipate exploring a range of research areas including Community based management models vs Community engagement, willingness & ability to pay, understanding water point adoption barriers (leading to continued consumption of contaminated water), to name a few. We believe our collaboration with SEKU is exceptionally valuable in informing the development of highly efficient rural water solutions & will help us scale for a greater reach and impact.