Failure by successive governments to develop this region of Kenya has led to locals working hard on their farms to provide food on the table for their children and grandchildren.
Unpredictable rainfall patterns can't guarantee water for communities, such as Mbakoni Village, all year round. Most rivers in this area are seasonal. Hand-dug wells are being built along sandy riverbeds to provide clean water, while sand dams harvest rainwater where it falls and make it available to the community through the dry season. This provides enough safe water for households, livestock and for income generating activities.
Mbakoni Community is found along the border of Makueni and Machakos Counties. The dominant activity here is farming with the majority of people owning small pieces of land where they grow maize, beans, and other cereals.
The community group is found in a peaceful rural area with significant tree coverage made of both exotic and indigenous trees. The area is hilly with steep slopes making part of the footpaths and roads linking up to the area. Many households have decent houses made up of bricks and roofed with iron sheets.
The source of water for the community is a scoop-hole found on a river bed. The water was not clean based on its dirty appearance and the fact that it is an open source.
The scoop holes do not provide enough water all year round and often dry up in periods of prolonged drought which exposes the locals to water scarcity and a myriad of disease conditions.
Some members of the community boil water before its use while others use it without any prior form of treatment.
"Failure to tap on rainwater has led to perennial water problems in our area, this has subsequently led to low levels of hygiene and sanitation, we hope to improve our conditions by working on numerous water projects within our locality," John Mutio said.
The majority of homes in the community have latrines, but many are made of unsafe mud floors. The chances are high that some latrines have been affected by the ongoing rains, leading to their collapse.
What we plan to do about it:
Our main entry point into Mbakoni Community has been the Kyambasa Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 30 farming households that are working together to address water and food scarcity in their region. These members will be our hands and feet in both constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.
We’re going to train Mbakoni Community on hygiene and sanitation practices. Though our visits to households were encouraging, we want to ensure that community members are practicing the day to day habits we’re not able to observe. Food hygiene, water hygiene and treatment, personal hygiene and hand-washing will all be a focus during our sessions together.
This particular hand-dug well is being built adjacent to this group’s ongoing sand dam project (click here to see), which will supply clean drinking water once it rains. We have supplied the group with the tools needed for excavation. With the guidance of our artisans and mechanics, the excavated well will be cased, sealed with a well pad, and then finished with a new AfriDev pump.
Excavation takes a month or more on average, depending on the nature of the rock beneath. Construction of the well lining and installation of the pump takes 12 days maximum. The well will be lined with a concrete wall including perforations so that once it rains, water will filter in from the sand dam.
This well will be located in Mbakoni Village, and will bring clean water closer to families having to walk long distances for their water.
This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Our team is pleased to provide the reports for this project (edited for readability) thanks to the hard work of our friends in Kenya.