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).
Kyandwiki Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2015, and now has 33 members: 23 females and 10 males. The average size of the families in this group is six members, 158 members total. The main economic activity of the community is farming, with 63% of respondents saying they depend entirely on farming as their livelihood. To supplement farming, 19% of the respondents mention that they engage in causal labor on the side. In this case, casual labor could be digging terraces, fetching water to sell, herding livestock, and other activities.
After visiting several projects implemented in nearby communities, the Kyandwiki Self-Help Group grew an interest in strengthening and protecting their existing water sources. The group is particularly worried about the degradation of their river, which affects its water flow and water levels. The solution is to construct a sand dam that will restore the degraded river bed. The community got in touch with ASDF, who advised the group to register and prepare a project plan that they wish to implement during a five-year partnership.
The Current Source
The main sources of water in this area are a natural spring and a seasonal river whereat the members dig scoop holes. 63% of respondents fetch water from the natural spring, while the other 37% fetch water from the river’s scoop holes. On average it takes one or two hours to travel to one of these water points. The limitations of having no other water sources nearby has created business opportunities for the youth, who fetch water from the spring and carry it to the nearby town to sell. Those who do not have the ability to travel to the spring or river buy this water, which costs between ksh 10-30 per 20-liter jerrycan. For those community members who cannot afford water fees, there are long lines at the water points very early in the morning, often before 5am.
People get water form the spring by directly scooping it up with small containers. When at the river, they get water by scooping it from freshly-dug scoop holes in the sand. There are times when the spring runs dry from too many people fetching water. When this happens, locals sometimes have to wait for hours before enough water is available for fetching. The low recharge rate of the spring has been caused by overuse and lots of human activity, which have degraded the catchment point over time.
The common way to transport water is by strapping containers to the back of a donkey or placing it in carts. A donkey can carry four or five full 20-liter jerrycans per trip. An ox can pull about 400 liters of water in a cart. Most households have at least one beast of burden because fetching water has been a challenge for as long as community members can remember.
To avoid numerous daily trips to the water points, each household has a specific day set aside just for fetching water. Most families prefer fetching water during the weekends when the children are around to help. This makes the weekends a particularly busy time at the spring and river, where there will be long queues and reduced water quantities available. Besides the weekends, some families have to make trips on Wednesday and Friday. On any water-fetching day, more than three trips are made to and from the water point. When it arrives home, the water is poured in larger reservoirs that will be rationed throughout the week. And of course this rationed water is for family members first and livestock last. This water challenge greatly affects the livelihood of farmers who of course opt to sacrifice the health of livestock for their families.
100% of households have a pit latrine, most of which are well-constructed and roofed. They are frequently cleaned, but the pits are left uncovered. Since every household has a latrine, open defecation is not observed as an issue in this area.
About 75% of households have tools like dish racks and clotheslines. Most garbage is disposed of in a compost pit located in the furthest outside corner of the home compound. When full, the contents of these pits are burnt to create more room. 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.
The group has decided to place a hand-dug well next to their river's sand dam. They will provide all necessary construction materials such as stone, water, and sand, along with a few volunteer laborers responsible for excavating the well. Construction is expected to take two months, which involves excavation, lining with concrete, and installing an Afridev pump. And as the neighboring sand dam matures, the water table will rise and provide both better water levels and quality. This shallow well built alongside the sand dam will give community members a safe way to access naturally filtered water (see the sand dam project here!).
The group members will be trained for three days on:
- Proper and safe water-handling and storage
- Sanitation and hygiene practices such as hand-washing
- Constructing a tippy tap (hand-washing station)
- Water treatment
- Building a strong water user committee
The community will also be learning about environmental conservation by planting trees to restore degraded land. This shallow well will be pivotal for establishing these tree nurseries.
Project Results: Training
The community training was held at a group member’s homestead, close to the sand dam and shallow well. This meeting point was chosen because training was scheduled during the rainy season, and members wanted to have a roof over their heads to keep them dry.
Training was initially scheduled to take place in April, immediately after the sand dam was constructed. But since the long rainy season starts in April, it was necessary to give the community time off to concentrate on farming. In May, the members would be less busy and able to take part in training. Because of the flexible schedule, the training was attended by all group members.
Participants also developed an action plan to improve personal hygiene. For example, community members planned how to get the tools for water treatment and when to start. These community members were grateful for what they learned. Farmer Rose Wamnua said, “I have learnt how hand-washing is important to avoiding diseases. I have learnt how to introduce hand-washing to all members of community through construction of the tippy-tap!”
So not only have community members learned how to construct helpful tools like dish racks and clotheslines, but they have also learned how to make a tippy-tap (a hand-washing station made of all easy-to-acquire local materials).
The construction process began with excavation on March 6th. This area has a hard, stony terrain which can prevent extensive excavation, and thus the community selected four potential well sites. The community assigned four men to fully concentrate on excavation of the shallow well while the rest continued work on the adjacent sand dam. Once the men found an area that would allow, they dug a pit 14 feet deep. Walling of the well was completed in April, by late April the well was cased, well pad was built, and the Afridev pump installed.
Major excavation delays occurred due to the onset of the rainy season. All of the rain made the well walls weak and thus dangerous for excavation. In total, delays lasted about two weeks. When they encountered hard terrain, the men poured water to soften it enough for a few feet more.
The shallow well will be recharged by the sand dam as the sand dam matures. This will ensure that the shallow well yield is high and a regular supply of water is ensured. The water user committee has also decided to set times when water can be collected: early morning (6:30am - 9am) and late afternoon (4pm - 6pm), allowing the well to recharge. Periodic water tests will be done to ensure that the quality of water is known, and that any beneficial water treatment methods are encouraged.
During pump installation, the water user committee was trained on pump care and maintenance, and is expected to fix any minor repairs. In the case of major breakdown, the community will call us.
Farmer Josephine Mumbua Musumbi is just happy that she now has a separate water point for her family. Before, people would take their animals to the same place as others would pull their drinking water! She attested that "the shallow well will provide humans with water away from the where the livestock are getting water... I think this will help in reducing diseases." She's right!