This project is a part of our shared program with Africa Sand Dam Foundation. Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
Self-Help Group Information
Vinya wa Mwau Self-Help Group has 25 members: six men and 19 women, with a leadership committee of nine: four men and five women. The group was formed in 1998 and registered in the year 2002. The group is located in Mukimwani Village which has a population of 711 people: 208 men, 209 women, and 294 children. The household mean is 5.2 members and the mean age of the members interviewed is 48.7 years, ranging from 27 to 70 years. (Editor's Note: While this many people may have access on any given day, realistically a single water source can only support a population of 350-500 people. This community would be a good candidate for a second project in the future so adequate water is available. To learn more, click here.)
Reasons for Formation
The members came together to find ways they could lift each other up. Water availability was scarce and they wanted to find ways to access water in their vicinity. Current group activities are merry-go-rounds (community fund-sharing method), they have plastic chairs which they lease among themselves, and tree nursery projects.
The community members said they rely on farming. Seventeen of the members said that farming is their main economic activity. Other economic activities in the region are livestock keeping and doing casual jobs.
The main water sources for the community is the Kyathei River less than one kilometer away, the Ndumanu Earth Dam which is less than one kilometer away, and the Thwake River which is five kilometers away. Everyone in the community relies on the Thwake and the Kyathei for drinking water. For household chores like cooking, washing and for livestock, 42% go to Ndumanu Earth Dam while 58% rely on the river sources.
People have to spend two to three hours each day at the river Kyathei during the dry seasons, digging deep scoop holes to get water. The earth dam is usually crowded, which is why they don’t use it for drinking purposes.
The mean acreage of the land under food production is 2.23 acres.
The members grow food crops such as:
- pigeon peas
- cow peas
Food security in the region is affected by a lack of reliable rainfall. A great majority of the people (84%) said that they plant and the rains usually end before their crops reach maturity, leading them to eat the unripened food, and thus leaving them with no food to harvest and keep in store for the next season.
Fourteen of the members interviewed plant trees.
Survival of the trees is minimal. The farmers said that termite infestations and the lack of reliable water for tree planting were the main reasons survival is low.
Note: The group mentioned has already built two sand dams and two shallow wells. They were also supported in establishing a drip irrigation project which has worked well thus far. Using water from the sand dams, they have been able to grow vegetables for food and sell the remainder for income. The water from the sand dam has also supported the group in establishing tree nurseries with fruit trees that boost income generation. The dams have transformed and continue to transform the lives of the community. ASDF is working with the group in hopes of completing at least four sand dams. This is because of the expansive area from where all of the community members are from. Previous projects are all working, and have provided water for the community since they were constructed. This hand-dug well will provide even greater water coverage for Vinya wa Mwau.
Mukimwani Village Information
A normal day starts at 5AM when children prepare for school, the compounds and houses are swept clean, and livestock are taken out for grazing. During the dry seasons, fetching water is prioritized, with the households spending two to three hours a day just fetching water. The communities use donkeys to transport water, and sometimes bicycles will be used. Primarily, women are tasked to undertake this venture. The rest of the day's hours will either be spent on the farm or attending various meetings (which may include school meetings or other relevant community meetings).
The Current Source
The women take their donkeys or bicycle to the closest river, selecting a part of the riverbed located above a sand dam. The water above the dam has been filtered through the sand. To access this water, the women have to dig deep scoop holes which when dug, are open to contamination. Having a well adjacent to the sand dam will give these women safe and constant access to water that has soaked into the riverbed.
This water is used for cleaning, cooking, and drinking. Since the water was collected from an unprotected source, many community members choose to boil or treat it before drinking. However, cases of waterborne disease periodically spring up in the community.
The community has asked for a shallow well to be installed in their area, which will be located next to the self-help group's first sand dam. As more sand dams are built, there are more opportunities to bring safe, easily accessible water that is convenient for all families. After this project's shallow well is built, 80-90% of people in Mukimwani Village will have viable access to water as a basic human right.
The construction is expected to take one and a half months. The hand-dug well will be lined with concrete and fitted with an Afridev hand-pump. The water provided by this new well will be particularly useful during the dry seasons, and will greatly support farmers who desperately need it for their crops.
100% of households in Mukimwani Village have pit latrines that are in fairly good condition. However, under 25% of households have dish racks, clotheslines, or hand-washing stations. Even though, the community's approach to hygiene and sanitation is very positive. It is obvious that locals make a concerted effort to keep their areas clean, as well as themselves. Their knowledge and motivation stem from the relationship ASDF has had with the Vinya wa Mwau Self-Help Group since the middle of last year:
"I have benefited a lot from the training which was done to us about cleanliness in our homes, I never had the tippy tap outside my toilet and honestly my family never used to wash hands after visiting the toilets. I am happy because now even my children are enjoying washing hands after toilet and even before eating. I constructed a dish rack for drying utensils as well," says Vinya wa Mwau Self-Help Group member and father Justus Munyasya.
We will hold a refresher training with the group for one day. The facilitator will use PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training), group discussions, demonstrations, and a transect walk to remind participants of good habits that they should practice in their households and greater communities. The transect walk will teach locals to watch for practices that go on and facilities that are present related to good health and hygiene. Sometimes, a participant feels shame when the group arrives at their household and points out things that are unhealthy or unhygienic; but in Kenya, this affects people to make a positive change. Based on the initial survey, the facilitator also decided to teach a lesson on proper water storage. It is important that families begin storing their water with covers, and limit the time they hold onto drinking water.
Construction: Hand-Dug Shallow Well
The construction process began on January 19th.
The group allocated some members to be involved in the excavation process. The excavation process was challenging since the area had recently received prolonged rains. This made the walls weak, hence endangering and restricting any manpower used during the excavation process. The type of soil in the area chosen for excavation is a mix of loam and clay, which absorbs water. So when the rains subsided in mid February, excavation could continue. The group was able to dig to a depth of 17 feet. The group used brick, stone, masonry, and concrete cast in a shuttering for the well's inside. The installation of the Afridev pump took five days.
We heavily involved the community in all stages of this project: One of the key aspects for long-term sustainability of any water supply system is the full and enthusiastic involvement of a community during all phases, including operation, maintenance and management. The community provided the local materials and labor for excavation.
The Vinya wa Mwau Self-Help Group decided that water will be sold at a minimal price to have the financial ability for repairing any minor issues with the water pump. During the installation of the hand-pump, the committee was taken through a minor training on how to detect and repair potential defects with the hand-pump. We will also make periodic visits to the water point to ensure that everything is working well.
The self-help group is organizing a formal thanksgiving ceremony which involves inviting staff and other guests. The emphasis of such an event is to thank God for the new water source, thank us for the support given to the group, and appreciate the community's own contribution towards making this water project a success.
According to the group, the well will increase the availability of clean water for their community. With this greater supply of water, the community intends to invest more in farming and income-generating activities. They are hopeful that this will increase the standard of living in this area.
Thank You for unlocking potential in the Vinya wa Mwau Self-Help Group's community!