Reliable Water for Mukononi Community
Our main entry point into Mukononi Community has been the Ithime Self-Help Group, which is comprised of 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.
In this community, most of the women's time throughout the day is spent fetching water from scoopholes. They have to be up very early in the morning to ensure they are first in line at the water point. Often, they carry water on their backs using lesos (kerchiefs/bandanas used as headscarves), while others ferry back the full jerrycans with their donkeys.
"It is very exhausting having to fetch water from scoopholes on a daily basis," said Kataa Mutua, a 42-year-old local farmer. "I have had to dig very deep scoopholes to fetch clean water, which is time-consuming. The water was salty as well, but we had to persevere and use it, as there was no alternative. Due to low supply, at times we had to walk to Athi River, which is around 10 kilometers from here."
When they get back home from fetching water, they prepare breakfast for their children to go to school and their husbands to go to work. Due to the other household duties, these women have to go back to the river beds to fetch water throughout the day. By the time they get back home, it's already evening, and they have to prepare supper for the family.
The scoopholes are open to contamination from farms, human activity, and pathogens. During the dry season, community members have to dig deeper scoopholes in order to get water, due to the low water table. Additionally, human beings and animals use the same scoopholes to get water for drinking.
"Once [the water] dried, we had to walk very far to the nearest water tanks, where we had to purchase water," said Mukai Mutua, another community member. "As a result, the water we got had to be used very sparingly. Access to a reliable water source will enable me to get water for cleaning, drinking, cooking, and for performing all other household duties."
Due to this, diseases are rampant among the community members: typhoid, amoeba, and diarrhea (dysentery). Most community members have attested to have been diagnosed with typhoid.
This particular hand-dug well will be built adjacent to a sand dam project, 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 bring clean water closer to families.
These community members currently do their best to practice good hygiene and sanitation, but their severe lack of water has been a big hindrance to reaching their fullest potential.
We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Self-Help Group and other community members to teach about important hygiene practices and daily habits to establish at the personal, household, and community level. This training will help to ensure that participants have the knowledge they need to make the most out of their new water point as soon as water is flowing.
One of the most important topics we plan to cover is the handling, storage, and treatment of water. Having a clean water source will be extremely helpful, but it is useless if water gets contaminated by the time it is consumed. We will also emphasize the importance of handwashing.
We and the community strongly believe that all of these components will work together to improve living standards here, which will help to unlock the potential for these community members to live better, healthier lives.
We typically work with self-help groups for 3 to 5 years on multiple water projects. We will conduct follow-up visits and refresher trainings during this period and remain in contact with the group after all of the projects are completed to support their efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene.