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).
The main economic activity in this area is farming: 89% of households rely entirely on farming. 27% of families are headed by women while the others are headed by men. The average household size is about seven members.
A family engages in different activities over the course of a normal day. The majority of a person's hours are spent on the farm, doing things like terracing and pruning trees. This area specializes in growing fruit trees, though recently the older, more mature trees have been drying out due to prolonged drought. This has greatly affected the income levels of farmers. During the drought periods, the day's main activity becomes water-fetching, which takes around 3‐4 hours.
The community approached ASDF for support in creating water security for their village. The Ngao ya Kiome Self-Help Group's main activities include merry-go-rounds (money collected from each member and then given to a different person each month) and helping each other on their farms, though lack of water has affected the group's ability to plant more trees. Upon follow-up visits, the group complied with the ASDF requirement of a strong leadership structure and willingness to work and provide materials.
The Current Source
There is a river nearby the Ngao ya Kiome group. Locals choose to fetch water from here for all purposes, including drinking, cleaning, and watering animals. This water is also important for farm irrigation, but is hard to come by during the dry season: Currently during dry periods, a 20-liter jerrican of water costs around 30 Kenyan shillings. Standard household use is 50‐100 liters per day, meaning that at least 90 Kenyan shillings will be used for water day to day. This is a large amount that the majority of households struggle to raise! With water made more available with a sand dam, the community will save on the amount spent for water. These savings will instead be invested in improving the well-being of the community, on education and economy.
When community members get water from this river, they can be sure it is not yet fit to drink. Scoop holes are dug in the riverbed to reach the least contaminated water, but this process takes lots of time. A shallow well at the river will give locals a faster and safer way to access their water. The group already constructed a sand dam which has raised the water table at the river.
100% of households have pit latrines, and the majority of them are well-managed. Because of these good conditions, no open defication was observed during the initial visit. No more than 50% of households have dish racks and clotheslines built, and compost pits are used for trash and waste. About 50% of families have hand-washing stations near their latrines, and have soap available. These relatively positive statistics are thanks to the recent training sessions held at the onset of this project.
The self-help group was trained for three days using the PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training) method. Topics included proper water treatment, hand-washing, and household hygiene. The group also went on a transect walk. The transect walk taught 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.
Self-help group member Patrick Musyoka said, "We really appreciate the training as we never knew the importance of having toilets at our water sources. We now know very well that water is contaminated by people who defecate in the open around the sand dams hence the many cases of diarrhea and typhoid. The only way to tackle this is through toilet construction, which we are already working towards. As a group, we have decided to make sure that at every sand dam, there is a toilet." If community members must travel to get their water, they better have a latrine option!
The group is in its first year of a five-year cooperation agreement with ASDF. During the engagement period, the group will receive help in constructing other, higher quality shallow wells and sand dams. The Machakos County Government has an ambitious plan to do alternative water projects in the area which will complement sand dams.
This hand-dug well project is expected to take two months. (Please notice that construction has already started, as seen in the pictures!) This well will be lined with concrete and fitted with an Afridev pump. Regular water tests will be conducted, with the results communicated to the community. Follow-up training and visits are meant to handle any challenges found in these tests. The community will be central in ensuring that the environment around the water point is cleaned and kept that way, and the adjacent sand dam will boost recharge of the shallow well as the community regulates its water.
Project Results: Training
Hygiene and sanitation training was held in one of the group member's compounds. This was the best location so as to avoid the rainy weather outside. Training was specific to the self-help group, which claims ownership of the project. All the members were invited to take part in training, and dates and times were communicated ahead of schedule so that members could all ensure their attendance.
It turned out to be very well-attended, with a total of 58 members showed up. The trainer divided this huge group into smaller teams to encourage everyone to actively participate. These focus groups had many discussions, listened to lectures, identified illustrations of good and bad practices, and went on a transect walk.
Some of the topics covered were:
- Common health problems
- Good and bad practices for water-handling and storage
- How diseases are spread
- Choosing effective sanitation solutions
The training's immediate result was an increased awareness on hygiene and sanitation. A community action plan was agreed upon, detailing how the major items learned, such as building hand-washing stations should be implemented.
After training, farmer Ngwala Mueni said, "The training on cleanliness has helped me to understand the importance of treating water. I usually used to think clear water is clean water. By treating water, my family will be free from diseases."
Project Results: Hand-Dug Well
The construction process began on February 8th.
The group allocated some members to be involved in the excavation process. The group was able to dig to a depth of 15 feet. The group used brick, stone, masonry, and concrete cast in a shuttering for the well’s inside. After the well pad was cast and had time to set, an Afridev pump could be installed.
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: Each day a number of people were involved in the pit excavation. The community planned a day when they would all be available to collect the necessary materials. The men were mainly involved in digging the deeper, heavier soil while the women collected and bailed the soil. Daily attendance logs were kept to ensure that all group members participated in construction.
The community encountered a hard rock layer that resulted in a huge slowing down of the excavation process, and also limited the depth of the well. The prolonged rainy season also affected the pace of gathering materials and excavating the well.
After the well was complete, farmer Stephen Kalema assured that "The shallow well will help in separating the livestock and humans who used to share the same scoop holes." The self-help group has promised to take good care of the well. When nobody is around, they put the pump under lock and key to prevent vandalism from outsiders.
The Ngao ya Kiome 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 also 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.