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).
Kisaila Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2011 by 24 females and 14 males. The average size of each household is six. 32% of people are in the age bracket of 18‐35 years, while 36% are of the ages 35‐60 years and 32% are of the ages of 60 and over. This is a balanced group in terms of having both the youthful and the elderly; a perfect blend for executing heavy work such as building a sand dam! The elderly provide wise counsel while the youth use their hands and feet.
The population of this area is estimated to be 790 community members who come from 38 different households. (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.)
The group united to find ways of improving their living situation. The main activities that the group engage in include welfare services such as merry-go-round (collecting finances that are given to one member each month), and supporting each other with farming. Of particular concern to the group was the drying up of their main water source.
The Current Source
"This place is always very hot and dry during the dry seasons of the year. Usually, water becomes a major challenge in this time… Worse still is that this water is not clean for human consumption, but we have no choice. Cases of waterborne diseases such as typhoid, amoeba are very high in this area. Am certain that with water from the sand dam which has a protected shallow well will be safe for us to drink. We will witness a drop of these diseases," says self-help group chairman Anthony Maweu Mwaluko.
River Mithini used to be permanent, and is the only natural source for the entire community. Degradation of the banks has affected the persistence of water in the river during the dry seasons. The water used to be available throughout the year but just recently started drying up during June. This leaves the community in desperation, spending more than one hour to fetch water from any alternative source. 84% of the respondents fetch water from the river. Alternative water sources in the area include a borehole where people are charged 30 Kenyan shillings per 20-liter jerrican of water, a price which very few can afford.
To access water at the river, community members dig scoop holes which are fenced with thorny bushes to prevent the entry of unwanted people and livestock. The livestock have their designated points where they go to drink water. Before fetching water at the scoop hole , an individual will scoop away stagnant water and allow the water to recharge. However, degradation of the river has increased the amount of time that water flows, so recharging a scoop hole can take quite a bit of time. During the dry seasons, even more time is spent in line as people wait for the scoop holes to refill.
Past experience with water shortage has taught the community to invest in reservoirs with large capacity. These are a common item within households, with most having a 200 to 300-liter water tank. Most of the group’s families have children who are still in school. Most families are able to afford day schools, which afford children time to also help their parents fetch water. During the weekends, this is the main assignment of children: to fill the large reservoirs and spare their parents frequent trips to the water source. Waterborne disease has been reported after consumption of the river’s water, especially during the dry seasons.
100% of households have a pit latrine, most of which are made of mud walls and iron-sheeted roofs. The group is located near a main town, so the income of the self-help members is fairly stable. This was obvious in that the quality of latrines is far above normal, with a few walls painted and even some doors that lock! They are comfortable and cleaned regularly.
Over 75% of households have tools like dish racks and clotheslines. Most also have a dust bin kit within their homes, and a compost pit outside in the back of their yards. Because most of the group members received a formal education, they understand the implications and consequences of poor hygiene. Hygiene is perceived as a symbol of class and well-being.
Solution: Hand-Dug Well
This shallow well will be dug adjacent to the sand dam (click here to check it out!) that is being built at River Mithini. As the sand dam matures, the water in the shallow well will become more and more constant. Construction is expected to take two months. Once the well is lined with concrete and an Afridev pump is installed, community members will have a great alternative to the scoop holes they have been digging in the riverbed.
Group members will be trained over the course of three days:
Day 1: Members will see presentations about the consequences of poor hygiene and sanitation. Members will participate through providing daily experiences of the practices commonly used.
Day 2: Members will be introduced to some common hygiene practices such as hand-washing and the need for tippy taps (hand-washing stations), household cleanliness, water treatment, and many other topics.
Day 3: Members will come up with an action plan of implementing some of the practices learned, and will provide a schedule of when they will actually implement these.
The facilitator will use a mixture of PHAST (Participatory Health and Sanitation Training) and lectures to teach the above lessons.
Project Results: Training
The community decided that training should be conducted at a group member's compound. This was done to provide a conducive environment for the community to learn. The venue was chosen also because it is central to the community. It also has a kitchen for cooking the lunches that were provided by ASDF so that training could go uninterrupted. The training was organized in late April to allow the community enough time to work on their farms. The rains usually subside in May, hence the community could have time to attend training.
The community actively participated during training. By being arranged in smaller groups, each and everyone had the chance to contribute to each topic discussed. Each member gave examples of their daily practices regarding hygiene and sanitation in their households; this activity made training relevant and applicable for all participants.
The main topics covered were: common causes of waterborne diseases and how to prevent them, water treatment, sanitation facilities, and the community's role in maintaining clean and safe water points. The facilitator used demonstrations, discussions, lectures, and other PHAST methods to teach the above topics. Community members could apply some of the practices they learned immediately after training, such as treating water, washing hands, and constructing dish racks and clotheslines. Farmer Agnes Pius, a woman who benefited from hygiene and sanitation training said, "I now know that clear water may not be safe water! It is only treatment of water that makes water safe for drinking."
Construction for this hand-dug well began on March 18th. This is when actual excavation of the well began. We anticipated that the rains would start early April, hence the need to have the shallow well done by that time. The community delegated the excavation of the well to three strong men, since many others were busy building the adjacent sand dam. Excavation of the main pit took eight days, the walling of the pit took five days, and installation of the hand-pump was done by end of April. Thankfully, rains didn't start until the end of April! The well ended up being six feet in diameter and 15 feet deep.
And since the sand dam was done by the onset of the rainy season, it was just in time to catch the rains and begin the maturation process! It will collect sand and raise the water table so that this hand-dug well will be less likely to run dry. Notice that the pictures show the well is on a pedestal; this is because we expect the land to rise as the sand dam collects more sand.
Self-help group member Mueni Syombua said that "the shallow well will be used to provide water for humans, while the scoop holes at the sand dam will be used for farming and livestock. We hope this will prevent contamination of the water meant for humans!"
Water quality testing is also a very important part of this project. Periodic water tests are scheduled in order to verify safety and ascertain the quality of water - and what methods of cleaning or treating the water should be used. The group has been trained on water treatment and basic hygiene practices which prevent contamination of this well's water.
The community will be in charge of controlling both pump usage and the digging of scoop holes along the river. Since the Kisaila Self-Help Group plans to sell water from this well, we are advising that they open a bank account to store funds that will be used if there is ever a need for minor repairs to the pump. If they ever need any help with management or repairs, they are encouraged to call our number!