More than 10,000 residents of Lamu East are set to have access to more clean water now that a Sh20 million solar desalination plant is open for business.
The plant by the Kenyan subsidiary of Italian oil major ENI, which owns energy firm Agip, was established through a partnership with the Lamu County Government and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum.
It is expected to help solve a decade-long water shortage problem that has affected Siyu and Pate Island.
Although surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Siyu Village dwellers have always struggled to find fresh drinking water since what's available has a high saline concentration.
The plant will will turn water from the Indian Ocean into fresh water for subsistence use by the islanders.
Many residents have on most occasions been forced to rely on salty ocean water even for subsistence use.
Addressing the public at the launch yesterday, Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha promised to have the project area secured by fencing it and constructing staff quarters for caretakers.
Mr Twaha also promised to build water kiosks close to the residents’ reach.
“We thank ENI Kenya for the collaboration in ensuring the desalination plant is established in Siyu. The plant will cater for the needs of the thousands of locals who have been suffering due to the decade long shortage of water,” said Mr Twaha.
Villagers at the site could not hide their joy since they can now get drinking water just by turning the taps.
Mohamed Bakari, a resident of Siyu village, said they have in the past survived on water drawn from wells, which sometimes was not safe for human consumption.
“Our women are now relieved of the hustles of searching for water from far places. We now have clean water for use,” he said.
Lamu County signed the pact with ENI last year that lay the groundwork for the project.
It was projected to produce at least 2,500 litres of fresh water an hour.