TWP demonstrates commitment to Turkana as Public Health Campaign gets under way


 

Back in January I wrote a blog piece detailing the beginnings of our Public Health Campaign in Turkana, Northern Kenya. You can read that piece here. A couple of months later, and things are really starting to move. James Lobokan is coordinating the campaign from Lodwar Town, and his latest report really gives an insight into the potential impact of the initiative. TWP is committed to this part of Kenya for the long term, and the 18 month programme is broad based and varied in it’s content. Here’s a summary of what’s happening on the ground:

The three main areas that we are focusing on are Kakiring Village, Lolupe Village, and House of Hope Orphanage. James is responsible for running hygiene promotion programmes with the people at these three centres, as well as ensuring that the water management committees are functioning well and that maintenance issues are being dealt with properly and efficiently.

One of the main things he’s been helping community members do is register their committees as self help groups with the government and, thereafter, open bank accounts. Households are required to contribute a small monthly fee for maintenance of the facility, which ensures against future breakdown. This is often a weakness of water and sanitation systems, as communities fail to maintain their contributions over time. We’re hopeful that with official registration and the regular visits James is undertaking, contributions will be consistent.

At this early stage in the campaign, James is also working to establish the main areas of concern regarding community health. For both Lolupe and Kakiring heath facilities are as far as 20km away. James is a trained physician, and is able to treat minor ailments in the field, but moreover he is working hard to educate the people about personal health issues, and is focused on helping people access facilities where ever possible. We see collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health as vital in these efforts, and again James is working to ensure the community are aware of how best to access services.

Clearly a key aspect of health is nutrition. Therefore, alongside the hygiene and public health focus, James is also training local people on agricultural practices. At House of Hope there are already two greenhouses in operation, as our partner SERV International works hard on food security. Using the orphanage as a model, James is currently identifying individuals to be trained in greenhouse management at the village level. In the future we dream that these recently settled communities will be able to improve their access to nutritious food though growing their own tomatoes, kale and  other vegetables.

So it’s a great start. Hygiene, community management of water supply, public health education and agricultural training wrapped up in a complete package. We’re delighted at how well things have started, and look forward to sharing future aspects of this innovative programme.

Thanks for reading!

TWP embarks on Public Health Campaign in Northern Kenya


TWP has been slowly working towards establishing a presence in Northern Kenya for a couple of years. During this time we’ve brought clean water to both the House of Hope Orphanage as well as Kakiring Community.  Working in

Community members at Kakiring use the TWP funded water source.

Northern Kenya is a challenge, conditions are tough and success is not guaranteed. Mobilising equipment from Nairobi is time consuming and expensive, and the road north is slow and dangerous. But despite the challenges we’ve had great success. The children at House of Hope are able to focus on their learning, the people of Kakiring no longer need walk for hours everyday to collect water from the river.

So what’s new? Well, over the past few months we’ve been talking with our partner SERV International about maximising the benefit that clean water brings. We want to build upon the hygiene and sanitation training that comes as standard in our work, and develop a public health agenda that demonstrates a long term commitment to the welfare of the people with whom we work.

To that end, TWP is committed to developing, funding and  supporting an 18 month Public Heath campaign in Northern Kenya, with a focus on the children of House of Hope, the people of Kakiring, and those of a neighbouring community, Lolupe.  The campaign will focus on regular community level visits, reinforcing health and hygiene messages and empowering communities to engage with local government and the health care provision in and around Lodwar Town.

During the programme, staff will be focusing on the following issues:

  • Hand washing
  • Disease transmission routes and how to block them
  • Household sanitation
  • Human waste management
  • Menstrual health
  • Accessing local services
  • Managing a water point – Operation and Maintenance of project hardware
  • Nutritional understanding
  • Agricultural knowledge and skills

It’s a broad focus, but one we feel confident about. Once the programme is up and running we’ll be able to report of specific programme activities and experiences from the field. It’s an exciting programme, with a demonstrable long term focus on developing local knowledge and skills, and we feel it will impact greatly on the lives of those we are committed to.

It all kicks off in January 2013. Watch out for more updates as things get moving!

My Heart Will Not Sit Down


What are you reading this summer? A great spy novel perhaps? A mystery that has you on the edge of your seat, reading long into the night when you should be sleeping?

Here at The Water Project we have a reading list.  We challenge each other with concepts from the books we read.  Books on international development and theologies of service often top the heady list.  But this summer, it wasn’t one of those books that touched me the most. Instead, a little book that Becky Pichler told us about really grabbed my heart. Becky is a teacher from Wilson Elementary in West Allis, Wisconsin and she shared with us how her classroom of 4th and 5th graders read My Heart Will Not Sit Down together this past year.  Then, in response, they worked together to help fund a water project!

The story takes place in Cameroon where the main character, a young girl named Kedi, learns about the Great Depression of the 1930s and of children in New York City who didn’t have enough to eat.  Kedi just couldn’t forget the children in New York and her ‘heart could not sit down in peace’ until she did something to help.

One passage really captured my attention.  In it, we hear Kedi’s Mama question her plans to help. (more…)

TWP catch up with Kakiring Community in Northern Kenya


Posted by Jack Owen, TWP WASH Program Manager. 14 May 2012

I spent most of last year living in Kenya. A lot of that time I was working directly with our partner organisations, working through program strategies and contributing to project proposals. It was a very fruitful time, and led to new relationships as well as the strengthening of existing ones. As well as the office based work, I also spent a lot of time on the road, visiting projects, talking to communities and trying to get a genuine sense of the impact our work is having.

This is Elizabeth, a member of the community at Kakiring.

Whenever I think about impact, I think about Kakiring. The people of Kakiring village, a few kilometers south west of Lodwar, are inspiring. I first travelled the long and bumpy road from Kitale to Lodwar in 2010, on a feasibility study for one of our partners, Bridge Water Project. I had been living in Kakamega, Western Kenya, and helping to restructure the project when the opportunity came up to travel north. I jumped at it. An old gentleman called Geoffrey was looking for partnerships to help him support the people of Kakiring, and I agreed to travel with him to meet the people and take a look.

The days I spent there 2 years ago have never left me, and so when I was in Kenya last month I made it a priority to pay Kakiring a visit, and confirm that the borehole and hand pump scheme we worked on last year was serving the community and that the people were able to look after it correctly.

The handpump in use at Kakiring

It was fantastic to see. The pump was serving the people of Kakiring as well as the neighbouring villages. The 3 hour walk to the river was no more, and people looked visibly healthier. Children’s faces were shiny where once they were dull, and there were places to discreetly have a bucket shower behind every hut. I was welcomed like a true friend. We ate githerie (maize and beans) under the stars, and danced to the beat of the drum until the moon rose high into the night sky. There was a sense that things were getting better in Kakiring, and an energy that comes from achieving something tangible.

Jackson Ewoi and myself catch up after a long time!

 

The overflow from the borehole had been encouraged into a channel which led into a fenced plot ready for cultivation. These semi nomadic pastoralists were thinking of planting. A first tentative step away from the reliance on food aid that is the norm in this part of the country.

Everyone talks about impact all the time, and struggles to quantify it. Numbers served, diseases reduced or eliminated. Children in school. Dishracks, washing lines, and latrines in homes. Income generating activities. All of these are indicators of positive impacts that water, sanitation and hygiene projects can achieve. And I think about all of this too, but sometimes when I think about impact, I just think about Kakiring, and the genuine relief written all over the faces of those whose lives have been transformed through access to a functioning handpump.

What the future holds is not clear for such marginalised peoples, but it is great to see Kakiring pull together, look after their supply successfully, and start to make plans for the future that are based on the goal of self sufficiency.

I’ll be back there soon I hope, and look forward to working with the people as they take the next step forward.