Clean, accessible, reliable water doesn’t change anything – it changes everything

Friday, February 12th, 2021

“Before this project was completed, getting water here was a real hustle,” said Roselyne Khasungu, a 35-year-old farmer and mother living in Emukangu, Kenya.

Roselyne depends on Okhaso Spring for water, which we helped transform into a protected spring with flowing water a little over a year ago.

Community members celebrate the completion of Okhaso Spring (pre-COVID)

The protected spring and the experience of fetching water there now are unrecognizable from their original state, and that’s a good thing, says Roselyne.

“We had to use banana leaves to enable us to fetch water. There was a lot of overcrowding and quarreling. This is because after one person fetched water, the pull using a container made the water dirty. Hence, a lot of time could be wasted as one had to wait for the water to settle down.”

“In a place where there is overcrowding, especially where women and children are the majority, quarreling is not exceptional. Personally, my home is near the spring, so I could watch a lot of fights at the spring and tried to wait until it was very late or go very early to avoid issues.”

Fetching water from the unprotected spring was a messy, time-consuming, and conflict-ridden process.

“Right now, getting water from this water point has been made easy and quick. All you need to do is just come with the containers you need to use to fetch water and simply place them, one by one, under the discharge pipe.”

“Right now, when I need water, I am sure that at any time of the day, I can get it without having a fear of meeting many people at the spring, which can result in fights. Also, overcrowding is a story of the past; no one has any reason to overstay at the spring because the pressure at which water is discharging enables you to fetch it very fast and move on. This is an advantage, especially to me as a wife, since I am able to do my house chores on time and go to the market.”

Roselyne waves from the spring.

“The assurance of having clean water, especially near my homestead, is such a great joy. My life has really improved.”

“This water point has helped me achieve so much. First of all, my family is glowing because they get plenty of clean water that they use to drink, wash, bathe, cook, etc. Having clean water in the home makes everything clean; the sanitation standards in my home have gone up.”

“As a farmer also, I rear different animals, so this water point has helped me to feed my livestock and supply them with clean water from the spring. My children also enjoy carrying water from the spring and giving it to the livestock. They have become more responsible. My everyday work has also improved since I get enough time to concentrate on my business, unlike before when I would waste a lot of time looking for water. As a woman, I have to ensure that before leaving the house, there is clean water so that when I come back, my work becomes easy. All these plans are achieved because of this project.”

Godfrey poses at the spring.

Godfrey, a young primary school-aged boy in the community, recalled a similar distaste for the spring’s past state.

“One, the water was not clean because of the way we used to fetch it. Two, we used to suffer a lot of struggling just to get water. This is because there was a lot of overcrowding and struggle. For me as a child, this scared me because sometimes people could even fight.”

“Three, there was a lot of time-wasting; one needed to spend a lot of time at the water point before getting water. This sometimes brought me problems at home because I could end up not doing all the chores my parents left, and this annoyed them when they returned home only to find that the work was not done as planned.”

“Right now, getting water from this water point has become so much easier. I love going to fetch water every time. This is because I am sure of getting clean water. Also, there is no more struggling at the spring because the time one needs to put his or her container under the discharge pipe has made everything easier, so nowadays I hardly get people struggling at this water point with no more time-wasting.”

Children enjoying fresh water from the spring upon its completion (pre-COVID).

“This has impacted my life positively because I can do all the planned work on time since a lot of work that my parents normally leave me to help with involves using water, such as cleaning the house, giving water to the livestock, etc.”

“Another way that this has impacted my life is that we now live as good neighbors. No more fights and quarreling that used to happen at this water point.”

“This water point has helped me to be more responsible because, since its implementation, I have no reason of delaying to do my work. Another way that this water point has also helped me is that I am able to accomplish my tasks and also get some time to play and socialize with my friends, then, later on, embark on my studies.”

“My health and that of my family has really improved; no more waterborne diseases like typhoid that we used to suffer from and spend time and money at the hospital seeking medication.”

“Indeed, water is life.”

Godfrey and Roselyne head home from the spring carrying water.

Field Officer Laura Alulu, who interviewed Roselyne and Godfrey, noted many differences in the community since her first visits there before protecting the spring and holding hygiene and sanitation training.

“As I walk through this community, I notice a lot has changed in terms of hygiene and sanitation. This is evident because the community members are now practicing proper waste disposal. For example, the animal wastes are well-recycled and used as farm fertilizer.”

“Another thing I notice is the handwashing stations: almost every homestead has a handwashing station outside the homes and at the latrines. Sanitation has also improved in that the community members are using latrines and not bushes or sugarcane plantations like before. Even those who could not afford this were provided with sanitation platforms by our team during the implementation of this water point. These slabs help people to clean the latrine floor easily, unlike before, when they would use wood that got spoiled after a very short time.”

Ivy Okhaso washes her hands at home with soap and clean water from the spring.

“This is a promising group,” Laura said. “So far, they are happy, and they are using the slogan ‘Water is life.’ They told me how this water has really brought back life to this community. One man said he has to carry this spring water in a small bottle whenever he travels because he has come to trust this water more than any other source.”

“Their environment doesn’t have so many challenges since they respect this project and hence are keen on anything that is done around the spring. They are very grateful to us for honoring them so much and giving them clean and safe water. They are also so grateful that they were trained on COVID-19 prevention; they could never get anyone who cared for them this much to provide this important training, they said. They are grateful.”

Two girls give thumbs up at the spring (pre-COVID).

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