It was a sunny morning when we first traveled to Ndithi Village. Ndithi is found in the Mwingi area, which is more than 300 kilometers away from the main offices in Mtito Andei. Based on the distance involved and the number of projects in this area, we camped at Mwingi Town for several days so as to cover many projects as possible.
We went to Ndithi to meet with members of the Ndithi Tuinuke Self-Help Group (SHG). This group of farmers wants to tackle water and food scarcity in their arid region, so we have partnered with them to achieve these goals. We plan to install their first sand dam and hand-dug well system to bring water nearby.
This type of intervention helps people improve their lives. Unpredictable rainfall patterns have made it impossible to guarantee water for communities all year round, as most rivers in Southeastern Kenya are seasonal. Sand dams harvest rainwater where it falls, making it available to the community until their next rain season.
There are 1,054 people living in this area. From our survey, we found 51% of the people here depend on farming as their main source of income while 37% are casual laborers and the remaining 13% run small businesses. The source of income does not really depend on the level of education that one has achieved. Some 73% of the respondents reported earning an average income of fewer than 3,000 shillings ($30) in a month.
For an average day in the community, women and children wake up at 6 am, go to fetch water, prepare breakfast for the family as the children prepare for school. The men normally take care of their livestock in the morning.
Fetching water is a big ordeal and can take up to five hours. The main water source is found at a sandy, seasonal riverbed in the community. Holes are dug in the sand until water pools, giving them the name "scoop holes." These holes are completely unprotected to all forms of contamination. Nonetheless, community members use this water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning.
Most of the community members walk for long distances to access these scoop holes, with some covering more than three kilometers up to the water source. The available river scoop holes are found on a seasonal river channel and always run dry during the dry season. This forces the community to walk even longer distances in search of alternative water sources. Available water levels at the channel are low and unable to meet the needs of the huge village population.
"Water problems have been severe in our village," said Mr. Mwanzia Muli.
"We are always forced to travel for long distances looking for water from open river scoop holes. At the end of the day, the available water is not safe for human consumption and has led to people suffering from amoeba and typhoid after drinking the unsafe water."
What we can do:
We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with Ndithi Tuinuke SHG, which are also open to non-members. These will teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish in the community at the personal and household levels. Taking good care of self and environment will make for a healthy community.
Baseline Sanitation Facility Coverage:
Handwashing Stations 0%
Dish Racks 10%
Bathing Area 50%
Animal Enclosure 60%
Proper Garbage Disposal 40%
And though most families have a good pit latrine, they need to clean them more often. Latrines were found to be below average, while some owners admitted to not ever cleaning them. Upcoming training sessions will strengthen weaknesses and continue encouraging each family that making the extra effort to clean homes, bathe, wash hands, and treat water is well worth it!
This particular hand-dug well will be built adjacent to Ndithi Tuinuke SHG’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 Ndithi Village and will bring clean water closer to families in Mwingi that have to walk long distances for water.