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).
Shallow wells are placed near sand dams which help raise the water table in the area. The sand dam near this project was constructed by our partner, ASDF. While The Water Project did not fund the construction of the sand dam, we are adding value to this community by installing a source of safe drinking water.
The Kilala North Self-Help Group's Community is comprised of subsistence farmers who grow crops for domestic use and keep animals. The group was formed in the year 2013 with the main goal to improve their livestock breeds and their planting of trees. However, both of those activities require water, and the current lack of water has led to little progress in attaining this goal. Instead, fetching water is the main activity of the day. The community regularly meets to conduct merry-go-round activities (eg. everybody contributes money to a different person for a period of time) meant to promote a savings and loans scheme. This helps in meeting basic needs, especially those of local women: The money loaned to them from the merry-go-round is used to buy food, pay school fees or invest in household business. It is a quick fix to meet daily household needs.
The population in this area is estimated to be 670. (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 site would make a great location for a second project. To learn more, click here.)
The Current Source
Most of the Kilala North Self-Help Group members live in Muvivye Village. There is a river with a sand dam located a little over two kilometers away from this village. Immediately after the sand dam was finished, the community members were so excited that they tried constructing their own shallow well. These efforts, however, did not result in a functional water source; this well needs to be reconstructed by professional artisans.
Self-help group member Magdalene Mwikali Muteto says, "The sand dam has really changed this area. It's hard to believe that we still have water flowing in the river even after the rains have ceased." So when fetching water, people opt for the part of the river near the sand dam, because the sand that builds up acts as a natural filter. The only way to get to the clean water, however, is by digging. If you wanted clean water each time you arrived at the sand dam, you'd have to dig a new hole. As of now, digging a hole in the riverbed isn't a great option, but it's one of the only options. Opening up the water to the outside world also opens it up to contamination. Some of these contaminants include surface runoff, human activity such as children playing, and proximate farming. Once locals fetch their water, they carry it back home in 20-liter jerrycans. Many of these water containers are not cleaned on a regular basis, and are another source of contamination. Some community members have recognized this water isn't fit for drinking, and boil it before doing so. Nonetheless, many cases of diarrhea and stomachache have been reported in small children after drinking water from scoop holes.
Over 75% of households have a pit latrine made of a combination of grass and mud. During the initial survey, it appeared none of these latrines are cleaned. Over 75% of households have bathing rooms too, but they don't see as much use as they should. Many family members choose to sacrifice personal hygiene to have more water for drinking, cooking, and irrigating farms. Mary Musembi, a local farmer, says "Our homes and even people are dirty. We skip cleaning our bodies and even our homes as we have to ration water."
Since this is the first training opportunity for this community, sessions will lats for three days. It was obvious that this community has the means to live healthily, but does not have the knowledge. The facilitator will seek to deliver this knowledge through PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training), presentations, a transect walk, and on-site training. 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. There will also be a special session on water treatment and proper water handling so that locals can maintain and benefit from the hand-dug well when it is finished.
Construction: Hand-Dug Well
Community members need a safer way to reach the water at the sand dam, and a hand-dug well will do just that for them. Pumping water won't be as much of an ordeal as digging a hole, and it will keep the water protected from outside contaminants. Construction is expected to take four months, and the community has already agreed to gather the materials needed for this process.
The training was held in the compound of one of the group members. This was conveniently so because it was done during the rain season. The community was notified two weeks prior the training as a consideration for them to adjust their other activities. All the members of the SHG had been notified of the training and attendance was 100%!
The trainers used a mix of various techniques. Small group discussions, role plays, pairing, demonstrations and action planning were used to allow for the interchange of ideas, to stimulate learning, and to establish an ongoing follow up through the process. The group also did a transect walk to investigate open defecation in the community. The major topics of the training included:
- Sanitation improvements
- Choosing improved hygiene behaviors
- Blocking the spread of disease
- Selecting the barriers
- Investigating community practices
- Good and bad hygiene behavior
- How diseases spread
The results of the training were increased understanding and appreciation between the disease causing organism and behaviors, basic household sanitation requirements, and detailed analysis of water treatment methods. The community was able to generate a tool that is to be used for monitoring the implementation of the learned concepts.
Dominic Mulinge, as local farmer, attended the training and said, "I used to think that treatment of water is expensive. The training has helped me to understand other methods of treating water that are cost friendly such as boiling."
Shallow Well Construction
The well is situated near the sand dam. As the sand dam matures, the shallow well will be recharged to enable more water yield from the shallow well. Periodic tests will be done to examine the quality of the water and advice given to the community in terms of treatment required to make the water clean and safe for the community needs.
The construction process took about 2 months. The main task was the excavation of the shallow well pit. The community were tasked with digging around 15-20 feet in order to get to a satisfactory level for sufficient storage of water. The group assigned the roles of digging to its members. The digging process took place during the rain season which also happens to be planting season. To prevent the collapse of the well pit the community did walling of the shallow well.
Active representation of all members of the community took part in the construction and availing all relevant local materials needed for the project. This included buying bricks that would be used to wall the shallow well pit. The community gathered local sand and stones to be used in the construction of the project. The community used donkeys to transport the sand and stones from the sites where they were able to access to the construction site. This is because most of the roads had been eroded by the heavy rains in the area making it difficult to get a vehicle to transport the materials to the site. To beat the deadline, the community members each provided a donkey in order to have more local materials collected.
The main challenge was the prolonged rains which were unexpected, spilling over into February. Occasionally this is a dry period and allows the community to concentrate on harvesting. Precaution had to be taken by the people who excavated the pit to prevent the walls from falling on them.
Mwangangi Mulwa said of the new well, "The new water point is a miracle. No one imagined that we would have water so close our homes. We will no longer have to make long trips in search of water."
Thank You to all who made this project possible for Kilala Self Help Group! Thank You for unlocking potential!