The daily routine for the people living in Yathui, Kenya, starts between 5:00 am and 6:00 am. This is when the community members have to wake up to go to the river to dig scoop holes for fetching water. The distance covered to bring the water is very far, which makes the chore of fetching water very time-consuming. Their river is seasonal and often dries up during the dry season, making the locals walk for long distances to alternative water sources that are far from their homes to fetch water.
It takes more than two hours to walk to the river, fetch water, and walk home for some people. A lot of money is spent purchasing water for use while it could be used for other income-generating activities.
"Our children have to spend a lot of their time fetching water instead of studying. We have to keep buying vegetables treated with unknown chemicals, unlike if we had water to establish our own vegetable gardens. A lot of our time is spent on fetching water," added Rachel Mwende.
Some 500 people here rely on this water point that is far away and often crowded. The people fetching water - usually women and girls - spend a lot of time at the water source waiting their turn to fetch water. For those without donkeys, the strain is deeper as they have to ferry their jerrycans on their backs and return to the water point several times per day until they fetch enough water for use.
"I have to pay water vendors to deliver water for use at my home, which is expensive. The vendor delivers six jerrycans of water, which I have to use sparingly to meet all my needs for four days. We often struggle to get enough drinking water," said Raphael Mathendu, a 52-year-old farmer.
Community members with donkeys typically fetch four jerrycans in the morning, getting back at midday. The morning water typically goes toward household chores such as washing clothes, dishes, and cooking. They return in the afternoon to bring more water for evening uses. A lot of time is spent in search of water.
Reliable Water for Yathui
Our main entry point into Yathui Community has been the Maluti Women 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 constructing water projects and spreading the message of good hygiene and sanitation to everyone.
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 provided the group with the tools needed for excavation. With our artisans and mechanics' guidance, 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 hindered reaching their fullest potential.
We will hold hygiene and sanitation training sessions with the Self-Help Group and other community members to teach about essential hygiene practices and daily habits to establish at the personal, household, and community level. This training will ensure that participants know they need to make the most out of their new water point as soon as the water is flowing.
One of the most important topics we plan to cover is handling, storing, and treating 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.
The community and we firmly 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 training 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.