August, 2020: Through Their Eyes: COVID-19 Chronicles with Peter Muthusi
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 Kyetonye 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 Peter Muthusi shared his story of how the coronavirus has impacted her his life.
Our field officer met Peter outside his home to conduct the interview. Both our staff member and Peter observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is Peter's story, in his own words.
How has COVID-19 impacted your family?
"Fear and anxieties around the disease and the future have been heightened due to the closure of businesses. Following the rise of cases daily, we are afraid of contracting the disease, and this has led to loneliness as we are not interacting with our neighbors as we used to. Unreliable source of income at this time has resulted in family conflicts and disagreements because of lack of money. Not being able to speak to friends and meeting them regularly is hard. We feel like we are disconnected from society, and we are wondering when the situation will normalize."
What steps is Kenya taking to prevent the spread of the virus?
"To stop the spread of the virus, Kenya has been conducting sensitization training of health care workers in Kenya. Frequent health education campaigns have been airing on media outlets to inform citizens on how to protect themselves by wearing masks all the time, washing their hands and avoiding crowded places. Quarantine facilities have been set up to ensure the victims of the virus are isolated for fourteen days. Contact tracing has also been going on to prevent the spread of this virus."
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?
"When going to the water sources we have been observing government regulations like wearing masks and social distancing. We have established handwashing stations near the wells to ensure each member washes their hands before handling the pump."
How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?
"Despite the challenges, we are very thankful to The Water Project and Africa Sand Dam Foundation for empowering us with skills that have been applicable during this pandemic. Training such as smart agriculture practices, soap making, and construction of tippy taps have all boosted our survival capacity during this time. Both sand dam and the well are saving us time and enabling increased food production and tree planting for soil conservation. We have been using the water to plant vegetables such as kales, spinach, onions, and tomatoes, which have helped in supplementing our diets during this period."
How has getting food been at this time?
"At the onset of the virus in our country, we had a great harvest which I stored in my granary. Had there been market days, I would sell some of my farm products to get some income. Unfortunately, we had no funds to purchase pesticides. Weevils have destroyed our food in stores, and we are currently facing starvation."
June, 2020: COVID-19 Prevention Training Update at Kyetonye 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 Kyetonye, 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.
October, 2019: Giving Update: Kyetonye Community Well
A year ago, your generous donation helped Kyetonye Community in Kenya access clean water.
There’s an incredible community of monthly donors who have come alongside you in supporting clean water in Kyetonye. Month after month, their giving supports ongoing sustainability programs that help this community maintain access to safe, reliable water. Read more…
March, 2019: Kyetonye Community Picture Update
In the most recent update we sent on January 31, we noticed that some of the pictures didn't look quite right. After checking further we found that pictures of another community were mixed in with the correct pictures of Kyetonye! We've fixed the error and have posted the correct pictures. And we're excited to share the community has received their first rainfall which is filling the sand dam and storing water that's accessed via the well and hand pump. Even during the dry parts of the year, Kyetonye will have water.
January, 2019: Kyetonye Community Hand-Dug Well Complete
Kyetonye Community, Kenya now has a new source of water thanks to your donation. A hand-dug well was constructed adjacent to a sand dam. The dam will build up sand to raise the water table and naturally filter the water available at the well. Community members also attended hygiene and sanitation training, and plan to share what they learned with their families and neighbors.
Construction for this hand-dug well was a big success!
"We are very grateful that the project's construction is complete and we can now enjoy the water attained. We have already begun using the shallow well!" said Jackson Mwasa. "There's a lot of clean water at the shallow well as plenty of water was harnessed by the sand dam due to the recently experienced rains."
We delivered the experts, materials, and tools, but the community helped get an extraordinary amount of work done too. They collected local materials to supplement the project, including sand, stones and water.
A hole seven feet in diameter 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 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. Sand builds up around the well walls, which will naturally filter the rainwater that’s stored behind the dam.
Once the construction of the lining reaches ground level, 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 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 (go here to check it out) because as the dam matures, sand builds up to the top of the wall. Until then, people will climb the concrete steps to get their water.
It could take up to three years of rain (Because sometimes it only rains once a year!) for the adjacent sand dam to build up enough stand to store the maximum amount of water – water available for drinking, cooking, washing, watering animals and irrigating farms.
The planning of the training was conducted a few weeks prior to the date. Christine Lucas Mutheu, a WASH officer, contacted the field officer in charge of the group to organize and mobilize the group members for the refresher training. Madam Ruth Mwanzia then contacted the group members to inform them on the agreed date and planned for a centrally-based venue in which the training would occur.
The training took place at Teresiah Kilonzo’s homestead. Teresiah is a member of Ivuka self-help group. The homestead is a central venue for all the members and also it's located 10 meters away from their sand dam.
Attendance was great considering this was not our first training with the Ivuka Self-Help Group. Out of the 22 people in the group, 20 members turned up for the training. On this day, the weather was calm and conducive for learning.
The participation levels of the group members were high as all the attendees portrayed immense interest in the topics of discussion.
"The training was great as we were refreshed on a lot of information taught in the previous training which we had forgotten," said Raphael Musyoka.
People attending were trained on topics including:
– cleaning latrines
– water treatment
– waste disposal
– how diseases spread
– how to make soap
The training went on smoothly without any major challenges coming along the way, this made the activity high successful.
Milka Mbithe, a member of this group, took the rest of the members through the demonstration on how to construct a tippy tap while a few members competed to demonstrate to the rest of the members on the handwashing procedure. The competition made the topic interesting and at the end of it all the participants were handwashing experts!
November, 2018: Kyetonye Community Hand-Dug Well Underway
A severe clean water shortage still affects hundreds of people living in Kyetonye. The walk for water is long and tiresome, eating into valuable time that should be spent on income-generating activities. Thanks to your generosity, that's about to change. We’re working to install a clean water point nearby and much more.
Get to know this community through the introduction and pictures we’ve posted, and read about this water, sanitation and hygiene project. We look forward to reaching out with more good news!