August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Jane Maitha
This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.
Our team recently visited Ilandi Community to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training and monitor their water point. We checked in on the community and asked how the pandemic is affecting their lives.
It was during this most recent visit that Jane Maitha shared her story of how the coronavirus has impacted her life.
Our team met Jane outside her home to conduct the interview. Both our staff and Jane observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Jane’s story in her own words.
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
All my children who were working and supporting me from other towns are currently at home and jobless which has affected us, again, I used to have a small shop here at Nzalae market. I had to use all my savings and capital on food purchases at home, which led to the closure of the shop as the operating capital and stock were used at home.
What steps is Kenya taking to prevent the spread of the virus?
The government has imposed movement curfews across the country with no movement of people being allowed past 7 PM up to 9 PM. Counties with high cases of the virus have also been locked down. No travel is allowed in and out of the counties to control its spread to other areas. The government is also encouraging the regular washing of hands and wearing face masks in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.
Jane washes here hands.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?
We were supported in the construction of two dams and shallow wells. These projects are helping us in the times of this pandemic. We can get clean water from within the village with fewer interactions with people from outlying areas. Again, the water is helping us maintain regular hand washing as advised in the prevention of the corona disease.
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
I am one of the families living nearest to the water projects in our locality, having unlimited access to water from the well has been helpful to us, we are using the water for handwashing, drinking and cooking at home. Water access is crucial to using tippy taps at home for constant handwashing.
How has getting food been at this time?
Now that I am no longer working and earning money from my business at the local market, I depend entirely on my small farm produce to feed my children who are at home. I had made a good harvest in the previous rain season, which is helping me sustain my family. The biggest challenge has been getting industrial products from the shop because they require money.
May, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Ilandi Community
Our teams are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in our fight against the virus while maintaining access to clean, reliable water.
We are carrying out awareness and prevention trainings on the virus in every community we serve. Very often, our teams are the first (and only) to bring news and information of the virus to rural communities like Ilandi, Kenya.
We trained community members on the symptoms, transmission routes, and prevention of COVID-19.
Due to public gathering concerns, we worked with trusted community leaders to gather a select group of community members who would then relay the information learned to the rest of their family and friends.
We covered essential hygiene lessons:
- Demonstrations on how to build a simple handwashing station
- Proper handwashing technique
- The importance of using soap and clean water for handwashing
- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces including at the water point.
We covered COVID-19-specific guidance in line with national and international standards:
- Information on the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19
- What social distancing is and how to practice it
- How to cough into an elbow
- Alternative ways to greet people without handshakes, fist bumps, etc.
- How to make and properly wear a facemask.
During training, we installed a new handwashing station with soap near the community’s water point.
Due to the rampant spread of misinformation about COVID-19, we also dedicated time to a question and answer session to help debunk rumors about the disease and provide extra information where needed.
Water access, sanitation, and hygiene are at the crux of disease prevention. You can directly support our work on the frontlines of COVID-19 prevention in all of the communities we serve while maintaining their access to safe, clean, and reliable water.
April, 2019: Ilandi Community Well Construction Complete
Ilandi Community, Kenya now has a new water source thanks to your donation. A hand-dug well was constructed adjacent to a sand dam. Community members also attended hygiene and sanitation training, and plan to share what they learned with their families and neighbors.
The community is eagerly waiting for the next rainy season. They understand that this sand dam and hand-dug well system is a long-term solution that will transform their semi-arid region over the next couple of years. Once it rains, that process will begin! The dam will build up sand that stores and naturally filters water available at the hand-dug well. We look forward to reaching out again as soon as we have news of flowing water!
Hygiene and sanitation training was planned and organized by the Mumbuni Area Field Officer, Paul Musau, who communicated with the community members and settled on a date when Instructor Christine Lucas could conduct sessions. The members decided to meet at their sand dam construction site for the training. The reason for choosing the site as the venue was that they wanted to continue with construction as soon as the training hours were over. The training would begin at exactly 9:30am and end at 4pm so the members could use the remaining hours of the day to work.
Training started with a word of prayer from a group member followed by introductions with names, position in the group, and expectations for the training. Instructor Lucas used various methodologies to ensure each person’s understanding. She used group discussions, demonstrations, drama/role plays, brainstorming sessions, and question and answer summaries.
The group worked together to learn more about:
– health problems they face
– differences between good and bad hygiene
– how germs spread and how to build barriers
– planning for change
The participants’ favorite activities were on problem analysis and handwashing. The members met together in a group and discussed illustrations of daily habits, discussing what was being done and how it might impact health.
Different people had different opinions on the illustrated activities, but by the end of the discussion, they were of common agreement. There was laughter during this activity, but most importantly, the women have agreed about best practices for carrying out their daily chores.
The handwashing demonstration began by constructing a tippy tap with local materials like a jerrycan and sticks. Once they learned this simple process, all the members resolved to construct a similar tippy tap in their own homesteads. One woman climbed a very tall tree to cut the forked sticks used to hold up the jerrycan.
A woman demonstrates what she learned about handwashing
The other women were very happy to see her climb a very tall tree to cut these sticks down. This activity will always be remembered by the women because climbing tall trees is an act associated with men. The climber shared her experience as she was climbing the tree to the rest, and they all shared laughter and excitement.
"The training was very good that’s why I attended all the sessions. I have learned a new method of water treatment and from today, I will no longer drink untreated water. I have also learned how to construct a tippy tap and learned the importance of having one. I also learned about diseases and how I can prevent them," shared Mrs. Lenah Syupata.
"I have also been trained on soapmaking today. I will use the soap to wash utensils, latrines, and my house."
"We are happy to have completed this dam and shallow well project! It was not an easy job for us as women but through hard work and commitment, we have made what looked impossible a possibility," Mrs. Syupata said with pride.
"As a community group, we are slowly moving towards achieving our objectives of increased water availability through implementation of community water projects."
We delivered the experts and materials, but the community helped get an extraordinary amount of work done. They collected local materials to supplement the project, including sand and water.
A seven feet in diameter hole is excavated up to a recommended depth of 25 feet. (Most hand-dug wells don’t reach that depth due to the existence of hard rocks between 10-18 ft.). The diameter then shrinks to five feet when construction of the hand-dug well lining is completed. This lining is made of brick and mortar with perforations to allow for water to seep through.
Progress on the well lining
Once the construction of the lining is level with the top of the sand dam, a precast concrete slab is laid on top and joined to the wall using mortar. Four bolts for the hand-pump are fixed on the slab during casting. The concrete needs to dry over the course of two weeks before the pump is installed.
The well structure awaiting pump installation and plastering
The mechanics arrive to install the pump as community members watch, learning how to manage simple maintenance tasks for themselves.
The well is then given another few days after installing the pump to allow the joints to completely dry.
The pump was installed level with the top of the sand dam because as the dam matures, sand will amass until it reaches the top of the platform. Once it rains, this sand behind the dam wall will store the water to be accessed through this hand-dug well. We look forward to reaching out again when we have news of water here!
Thank You for making all of this possible.
March, 2019: A Water Well in Ilandi Community
Your generosity provides the means for families living in Ilandi to have water nearby. They live in a semi-arid, sandy region where water is hard to come by - so people heavily rely on the water wells and sand dams they are able to build with us.
Digging a well alongside a sand dam will provide drinking water access for hundreds of people as the dam matures and stores water. This community is also benefitting from training sessions that review healthy habits as well as introduce new ones.
Get to know this community through the introduction and pictures we've posted, and learn more about this water, sanitation, and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out again soon with news of success!