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).
Welcome to the Community
We are on our third year of partnership with the Vinya wa Mwau Self-Help Group, with two more years to go. We’ve worked with them to build two sand dams and two hand-dug wells that have drastically improved water access in the area. The group was also supported in installing a drip irrigation project which has worked well.
Using water from the sand dams, farmers have been able to grow vegetables for both their own use and for market sales. The water has also helped the group start tree nurseries that produce fruit for more income generation.
The group hopes to build two more sand dams and hand-dug wells because of the expansive area in which they live. They want water to be equally accessible for all. Before this partnership, locals had to wake up by 3 AM each day to beat the long lines that formed at the water source. Not only that, but this previous water source was eight kilometers away!
This area has a total population of 711 people. (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 community travels to either of the two hand-dug wells to fetch water. Though the two wells have brought water closer to many households, it is still a long distance for some. The farthest of families have to travel up to two kilometers to get water.
We noticed that since locals have learned about the importance of handling and storing water properly, water containers have been kept much cleaner. The standard 20-liter jerrycans that women use to fetch water with all have covers to protect the water during the trip. Once home, this water is separated into larger containers by intended use. Drinking water is always kept separate from water used for cleaning.
After testing water from the two wells we constructed, we found that there was no contamination. This was good news for the community! There is clean water here, but we must make it more accessible with the construction of a third sand dam and hand-dug well system (click here to see the upcoming sand dam project). The two systems are always overcrowded; it still takes a woman an average of three hours a day to fetch water because she must wait in line.
Since this is our third year with Vinya wa Mwau, we are happy to share that all households in this area have a pit latrine. These are well-constructed, deep, and cleaned on a regular basis.
Over 75% of households have a hand-washing station with ash or soap available. The same number of families have dish racks and clotheslines to dry their things up off the ground.
Each households has a trash bin inside the home that is regularly separated and emptied into one of two piles in the back of the compound. Biodegradable material is composted to make fertilizers for the farm, and excess garbage in the other pit is burned.
The training here for the last couple of years has increased awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the huge role that sanitation and hygiene play in good health.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
We will take two days to review hygiene and sanitation with self-help group members. We will also use one of these days to review the action plan that this group agreed on in the beginning of our relationship. We want to keep encouraging the self-help group members to share what they know about good hygiene and sanitation with their neighbors. Some still lag behind in the construction of useful and important tools like hand-washing stations, dish racks, and clotheslines.
Plans: Hand-Dug Well
We estimate that this third year of project implementation will provide 90% of the community with accessible clean, safe water. Group member Patrick Kiema shared, "Yes, our work in the last three years has realized fruits. We are using water for vegetable planting. However, the water hasn’t been enough for all members. With the third water project, our efforts to have adequate water to all members will almost be achieved." You can see Patrick and his household in the "See Photos & Video" section.
This well will be dug adjacent to the third sand dam being built. As the dam builds up sand, the water table will rise and provide more water accessible through the hand-dug well. That same sand will also function as a natural filter for drinking water. Materials like bricks, stones, and sand are already being gathered at the proposed well site, and construction is expected to take about one month.
The success of the group’s previous two sand dam and hand-dug well projects has led to new membership. The group has grown, and more and more people will benefit from projects, both new and old. Through these new water systems, water will be available to even less-privileged neighboring communities.