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
The Kwa Mutunga Self-Help Group is located in Ngomano, Makueni County. Their community is located in one of the driest parts of the county, on land that was initially used for a ranch. Because of a rapidly changing climate, their water sources have since dried up. Food shortage and water scarcity here has affected thousands of households. They haven’t seen rain in the last years, further burdening the already poor communities whose income is solely dependent on farming and livestock.
Because of these dire circumstances, the people of Maukeni County have been the recipients of many different water projects from different organizations. However, many of these projects now sit unused. Boreholes have dried up, and pumps have sat unrepaired. Three boreholes were drilled, but only one works now and then. Unfortunately, the well that functions is the one farthest away from community members. Thus, it still takes many women and children an average of four to five hours each day to fetch enough water for their families.
This area is home to 800 people, and we estimate that 500 people will benefit from this new water source. (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.)
People in this area have one borehole, some unprotected wells, and groundwater for their water sources. The population here is large and expansive. Since such a large population relies on only a few water points, the lines to fetch water are extremely long. Moreover, water from the existing wells is sold at an average of five shillings per container. Many farmers here cannot afford that price to water their large amount of cattle, and sometimes the goats go for days without water. This leads to huge economic losses for farmers. Children go for days without being able to take a bath. Their school uniforms are filthy.
A majority of families will choose to fetch their water from the riverbed, where it’s free. Different scoop holes will be dug according to use. Some are set aside for cattle, and the others for human consumption. People here don’t care much about having good quality water for their animals or household use, but make sure to reserve the cleanest-looking water for drinking.
Once delivered home, water is also kept in separate containers based on use. Drinking water is stored in covered clay pots up off the ground, and water for cleaning and for animals is kept on the ground in plastic jerrycans.
We met Rhoda Wambua, a mother and a farmer who has suffered from these conditions. Her picture can be seen under the "See Photos & Video" tab. She told us, "We have suffered because of lack of clean drinking water. We are drinking water which is colored and smelly, and many are afraid of getting sick from continued use of such water."
This is the second year we’ve worked with the Kwa Mutunga Self-Help Group, so they’ve had time to implement improvements. Every single household here has a pit latrine, and almost every family has a room dedicated for personal hygiene. More than half of homes have hand-washing stations either outside of the latrine or kitchen.
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Review
The group will meet for two days to review what they’ve learned about hygiene and sanitation. After visiting many of their homes in person, we decided to focus on hand-washing with them again. Last year during training, the group made an action plan that included the construction of hand-washing stations. The group cannot reach that goal until every single home has a place to wash hands.
Plans: New Well
We will work with the Kwa Mutunga Self-Help Group for four more years to achieve their goal of building six new water points. This hand-dug well will be their second, and is being constructed adjacent to their second sand dam (click here to see the sand dam project). The construction process will begin with group members gathering the needed materials, such as sand, stones, and water. They will also help the artisan excavate the hole for the well. Then, the well pad will be casted and the new AfriDev pump installed.
One of the reasons so many of the boreholes in this area failed is because there was no strong management in place. When a well broke down, nobody felt responsible to fix it. One of our goals with this self-help group is to raise up a strong water user committee that will oversee and maintain this new hand-dug well. Whenever there's an issue, the committee will have the skills to deal with it. If a repair is out of their hands, they will have our contact information to trigger a visit from one of our mechanics.