This project is a part of our shared program with Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Initiative (SAWASHI) of Kenya. Our team is pleased to directly share the below report (edited for clarity, as needed).
Welcome to the Community
Chepkemel Beek Women's Self-Help Group was formed in the year 2011 and registered as a group in 2012. These women live in Chepkemel Village, while the word 'Beek' is a Nandi word referring to water. These women came together wanting to alleviate their daily struggle with water scarcity.
The group is now made up of 14 women.
At some point, the group lost hope in finding clean water and focused instead on what they could tackle. The group started table banking, poultry farming, and leasing chairs and a tent to people having ceremonies like funerals and weddings. These activities currently act as a decent source of income for these women.
The women are currently developing their poultry farming by building hen houses on each of their homesteads. By March of this year, five of the 14 had finished their coops.
These women's roles are quite different from the men. Women are expected to care for the children, feed and milk any livestock, prepare meals, collect firewood, clean, fetch water, among many others chores. Men have to ensure the home is well protected, land is cultivated, and school fees are taken care of. As of now, most men are tending to maize. Some of that maize feeds the family, while the rest is sold in local markets. When children reach age 13, they're expected to act like adults and help with the adult chores.
These women are bold and ambitious. Back in 2012, they worked with a former partner of The Water Project to drill a well in Chepkemel. After the drillers left, we agreed to monitor the well and make sure it continued serving these women and their entire community. But over just a few visits we saw a steady decline in the amount of water this well could produce, and soon there was none. Taking off the pump and looking inside shows that this well was not installed properly in the first place - it was full of earth. This discovery is what led the women's group to focus on other things.
Both humans and animals in this community have had it rough during this time of prolonged drought. We had to walk close to three kilometers to the water source on which the entire community depends. When we finally arrived, my body was exhausted, and my mind was blown by what I saw at the source.
Given that this is the only source within walking distance radius, both humans and animals come here to sate their thirst. Women carrying water containers were busy fetching the dirty water to bring back home while the cattle came at their own slow pace to drink water from the same source. The cattle defecated and urinated in the same source, but the women have no other option.
The water from the source is turbid and filled with animal dung and urine together with every kind of contamination. The water flows by extremely slowly since its level has also decreased due to the long drought. If the situations continues as it is, my worry is the source may dry up completely and the community may not have clean OR dirty water.
Most families in Chepkemel own and use pit latrines, but they do not practice hand-washing after visiting the toilet. For the few households that have installed hand-washing stations, there is no cleaning agent like soap or ash. Mrs. Edna Cherugut told us, "Most people in our village suffer from typhoid disease. Due to lack of access to safe drinking water, typhoid cases are high in the community. Most people do not have hand-washing stations since accessing water for domestic use is a burden in itself; women in the community would rather give priority searching for drinking water than water for hand-washing."
Plans: Hygiene and Sanitation Training
Hygiene and sanitation training will be held with community members for three days.
We will cover the topics below and many more:
– Proper hand-washing
– Water-handling and storage
– Food preparation and storage
– Water treatment methods
– Preventing waterborne diseases (specifically diarrhea and typhoid)
– Developing positive attitudes about hygiene and sanitation
Our trainers will use posters that illustrate both good and bad hygiene practices. Group discussions, role plays, and demonstrations will keep everyone involved with the important information they're learning.
On the third day of training, we will focus on strengthening a water user committee to properly manage and maintain the new well. The committee will draft rules for proper behavior around the water point and will also ensure that community members contribute a fee to be saved for any future repairs. If they encounter any problems, they are to contact the SAWASHI head office. And in the meantime, we will continue to visit Chepkemel Community and their new well.
Plans: New Borehole
This borehole is an exciting opportunity for The Water Project and its partners. We have been undertaking a rigorous vetting of drillers to find the best team and drill rig. We have also received a shipment of LifePumps, a newly developed stainless steel pump for deep borehole wells. This pump has less moving parts, so we envision easier maintenance and more uptime.
Chepkemel Community has already set aside a piece of public land that is central to all. The women's group is excited about all of the opportunities having clean water nearby will unlock. They're already planning a community greenhouse!