This is my first blog post from Kenya. Our team landed in Nairobi in waves last Saturday and were greeted by overcast and cloudy weather. The driver who picked me up told me that the monsoon was late this year. Our accommodation is in a highly secure part of Nairobi, very close to most of the foreign embassies.
We had a meeting with our client on Sunday, where we were introduced to the Kenyan Team that has been working on this project. We went through a macro level planning of our next four days in Marsabit County, which is a twelve hour drive from Nairobi.
Early Monday morning we met with about twenty student leaders and staff from Mount Kenya University who were accompanying us to Marsabit. Mount Kenya University has been helping our client with field research and support. It was great to meet and interact with some peers!
Most of Monday went in travelling to Marsabit. It was interesting to learn from others that over the last few years, thanks to devolution, there has been much investment made locally for building roads and infrastructure. At Marsabit, we spent the whole of Tuesday and Wednesday gathering relevant data for our project and understanding the market for water packs in these regions.
We spent the first day visiting local schools that are getting free water packs. We got to talk to many locals and understand their issues. It was an interesting day and a great way to learn more about rural Kenya.
The second day, we got a chance to go to Parkishon village, which was an hour further into the interior of the main county district. We experienced first-hand how women in these villages carry water from a usually muddy source back to their villages using jerry cans.
All five members of our team tried carrying the jerry cans and then the water packs, which helped us better understand the product. We surveyed the villagers at Parkishon to understand the pricing and usage of jerry cans among other things. I was able to gel well and have constructive discussions with local Kenyans on various issues. I could attribute it to having lived in a developing country myself and knowing the issues faced in such places.
We also visited the Marsabit county hospital and spoke to the chief doctor there to learn about the health problems that were specific for this region. We were given access to some great data resources that should help us immensely in our project going forward. I think that our initial visit to Marsabit helped us really sink into this project and country. We now know the product and the market better.
One of the most interesting parts of my Marsabit trip was that even in these remote villages, many kids could read English and were going to school every day. We also saw that the village was being connected to the rest of Kenya by a new highway. I am positive that this country has great potential in the future and am eagerly waiting for the next two weeks to see what more surprises Kenya has to offer!