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 Kyambilu Self-Help Group's area is arid, where the average annual rainfall is 650mm. Rainfall amounts have drastically decreased even in the last three years, affecting this community's main economic activity, farming. 47% of the respondents interviewed rely entirely on farming, while 31% rely on farming and other causal jobs on the side. Due to the decrease in rainfall, most self-help group members have resorted to charcoal burning; meaning they must clear the available vegetation. This has led to land degradation, compromising the ability of future generations to grow food or rely on agriculture. Water shortage is a big challenge here and takes up the most hours each day. However, things have begun to change with the construction of the self-help group's first sand dam.
The Current Source
The main water sources are river scoop holes by the sand dam. These scoop holes are left open, contaminated by both human and animal activity as well as soil erosion.
Farmers take donkeys to fetch water from more distant places. These donkeys can carry four 20-liter jerrycans per trip. Due to the long distance, many farmers return home exhausted and can do little to no activities the rest of the day. When the water arrives home, it remains in the same containers used for fetching. Once this water is gone, a return to the river is decided. Most households boil the river water before drinking, but a lack of safe water has led to frequent reports of waterborne disease. These have impacted the income levels of many families because of expensive hospital visits.
More than half of the self-help group families have pit latrines. However, many latrines collapsed in recent rains, so more temporary shallow pits were dug as substitutes. About half of households have tools like dish racks and clotheslines to dry their belongings off the ground. Since most self-help group members are farmers, they are aware of proper waste disposal and using this for compost. In fact, this community was found to be very knowledgable about hygiene and sanitation practices. This is because the government and civil society organizations recently implemented hygiene and sanitation programs here.
Solution: Hand-Dug Well
The community will take ownership of this project even before construction begins. They are responsible for gathering materials like sand and stones, as well as for volunteering able-bodied people for the upcoming labor. This hand-dug well will be located next to a sand dam already built by the group. This is an ideal location because the sand dam provides a fast recharge rate for the well.
Construction is projected to take two moths. The well will be lined with concrete, a slab will be cast for the top, and an Afridev pump installed.
The self-help group will be trained for two days using the PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training) method, presentations, demonstrations, on-site lessons and a transect walk. 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.
After initial visits to this area, the facilitator decided to focus on raising awareness on the importance of effective drinking water treatment and how to properly store this water.
The community training was held at the group chairman’s compound. This was in order to create shelter from the rains since the training was done during the rainy season. The training was planned in the start of January and the group was alerted in order to confirm their availability. This was also done in consultation with the SHG to confirm that other activities and programs that the group was involved in that would not hinder the attendance and participation of the community in the training.
The training was well attended with a total of 35 people attending the two day training (7 males 28 females). The training involved group discussions, role plays and presentations from the participants to allow for active participation in all the group activities.
The main topic covered included identification and problem analysis of the health situation in the community. This was facilitated through the use of the seasonal calendars, community mapping, three pile sorting, and F diagrams (F diagrams show disease transmission paths through fingers, food, feces, fluids, and flies). The contribution of members in terms of ideas and knowledge is what create balance and a platform for the training. The community is also taken through the blocking of the spread of diseases, selecting the barriers, and choosing sanitation improvements. The tools used in this case involve the blocking the route, barrier chart, and sanitation ladder. The importance of hand washing and tippy tap construction is also done. During this session the community discusses the critical moments for hand washing.
Esther Mulinge, a training participant, commented, "As a woman I am happy to learn how to encourage my family members to wash hand frequently. I have learned how to construct a tippy tap near my toilet."
Shallow Well Construction
The group constructed the shallow well adjacent to the sand dam. The sand dam is almost at maturity and will recharge the shallow well. Frequent monitoring will be done to determine the quantity and quality of the water in the shallow well.
The construction process lasted for two months. The group allocated various group members to support in the actual excavation the shallow well pit. Each day a target was made on the depth of excavation that the community was expected to dig. A daily attendance log was kept to ensure that all members took part in the construction process. The community provided labor during construction, and also contributed local materials such as sand, stone, and water to be used in the walling and construction of the shallow well.
Challenge was no stranger on this project. Three times community experience a hard rock terrain which was impenetrable during excavation. They had to restart the process each time, hoping to find a suitable location. On each occasion the sites were not easy to dig immediately past 5 feet, a very shallow level to have the well constructed. But with perseverance, excavation was finally completed. This delayed the task of installing the hand pump.
"We hope that the shallow well will be able to provide water through out the year and reduce the burden of fetching water from far during the dry spell," said Mwikali Simon, a local female farmer.
Now that the well pump has been installed, the community has put the hand pump under lock and key to prevent the pump from being vandalized. In this way the community can also control when the water can be fetched by residents. In most cases, fetching water is between 7 am - 10 am and 4pm to 7pm, thereby allowing plenty of time for the well to recharge. The members of the community present during the installation of the hand pump were taken through basic ways of identifying defects with the hand pump and immediate steps to take to rectify any defects.
The height of the well as seen in the pictures below is to accommodate an increase in the height of the nearby dam in the future. As the dam is increased, the level of sand in the riverbed will also increase. The high well platform enables this to happen without having to rebuild the well.
Thank you to all who made this project possible. Thank you for unlocking potential!