Mbitini village is a highly-populated area with more than 1,400 people living in the region. The community is located in Kenya's semi-arid region, where water demand is high, but access is low. Many people here walk long distances to get water each day.
The current water source for the community is a sand dam and shallow hand-dug well that we helped build last year. The one well, however, cannot meet the entire community's water needs, leading to overcrowding and sometimes low water quantity. As a result, people return to using scoop holes to get water. While fetching water from the scoop holes may help to cut down on wait times compared to the well, the scoop hole water is unsafe for consumption.
"Getting water in our community has not been easy. The water point is very far - more than three kilometers from my home - and it takes a long time to walk there, draw water, and walk back home with donkeys," explained Annastacia Musau.
"As a mother and a wife, the need for water here is very high - especially times like today with the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires higher standards of hygiene for prevention. That is not possible when the water source is far and getting water is a challenge."
Not everyone can afford donkeys, like Annastacia. That means they have to carry the water buckets themselves - a task that most often falls on women and children. As a result, more trips back and forth to the well are required. All of this makes fetching water more tiring and more time-consuming.
Our main entry point into Mbitini Community has been the Mathyakani 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.
We typically work with self-help groups for three to five years on multiple water projects. Completing multiple water points in a community will ensure that people like Julius Musili will no longer spend a significant part of their day walking to get water.
"As members of Mbitini community and the great Kavaini location, our biggest problem has always been water, which the government has failed to address over time. Our lack of adequate water supply has greatly contributed to the high poverty levels in our locality as farming with the natural rains has been continuously failing. We need water through community initiatives like what we are doing now, working together to beat a common challenge," said Julius.
The implementation of more sand dams and shallow wells will provide more water sources, helping the community to address their water challenges.
Reliable Water for Mbitni
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.